Guest Post: Playing With Food
PLAYING WITH FOOD
Written by, Clare Mathieson
Kids are often told not to play with their food. I say let them play with their food.
Why we play with food at our place
I am keen for my kids (7, 4 and 1) to eat fresh, real and tasty food and I want them to enjoy what they are eating. We do lots of cooking and crafting at home but my newest hobby is playing with food. Making food art for my children started in an attempt to encourage a friend’s little boy to eat salad (it was successful). I loved doing it, the children kept asking for more and I haven’t been able to stop!
Why playing with food has been good for my kids
My kids love guessing what I am making and then demolishing it almost immediately afterwards. I’m talking ingredients such as broccoli, quinoa, red cabbage, lentils – they eat it all. They try new foods much more enthusiastically too. They often make their own food art now – for themselves but also for me. It is cute to see what they come up with but the best bit has been the improvement in their kitchen skills – lots of chopping and making their own snacks and lunches. I have only one rule: no food is to be wasted. Everything used in our food art creations should be eaten or at least tried.
How to play with food
The food art plates don’t have to be fancy, time consuming complex – parents are busy enough – a smiley face made out of salad would do the trick. Depending on their age and skill level, kids can definitely get involved and love to help out with choosing ingredients, chopping (younger kids can use a butter knife on softer foods such as bananas) and creating their own plate to eat. My four year old is now a superstar at chopping fruit and vegetables from making his own food art. The ideas are sometimes based on what ingredients we have on hand, but other times we get an idea from a book or picture we’ve seen and try to create it.
Good foods to play with
- Flatbread, tortillas, grainy bread. These can be cut into different shapes easily and you know kids will most likely eat them anyway.
- Vegetables. Cucumber, carrot, capsicum are all good to chop up into arms, legs, tree trunks.
- Fruit. Apples, pears and bananas can be cut into faces, moons, birds. Berries and grapes are easy for little fingers to place and make pictures (eyes, balloons, flowers).
- Nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Depending on age and allergies, a small amount of nuts, seeds and dried fruit can be good for making faces, grass, raindrops, hair.
Here is Arthur (4) and Mabel (7) mixing and chopping.
These fairies were created after making the yummy and easy tuna and vegetable patties. We turned them into little fairies by adding lots of veggies – cherry tomato wings, carrot arms and legs, cucumber dresses and lettuce hair. The dots are tomato relish.
In our house, meals like these are demolished in about 10 seconds flat.
Another easy one I did for breakfast one Saturday was turning bircher muesli into sheep by adding some chopped dried dates for legs and faces, some pepitas for grass and some fruit for stars and a moon. A hit!
Have fun playing with food!
About the author of this article
I am a mum of three kids (7, 4 and 1) and a primary school teacher from Melbourne. I love making things – food, art, craft – and this year I have developed a bit of a hobby in making food art for my children. I first started to make them smile and encourage them to eat healthy food. Now I can’t stop! No food is wasted in the making of these plates and I try to use healthy, tasty and fresh ingredients.