Backyard Fun? Start with a Mud Kitchen

Let the Mud Pies Fly this Summer!

One of my favorite things to do as a kid, was to get messy in my backyard and make Mud Pie! I loved being able to use my moms old and forgotten kitchen utensils, pots, and pans and creating something messy for “supper”. 
We didn’t have an actual Mud Kitchen when I was a kid. But my parents set out bowls and spoons and all of the ”ingredients” on the back deck for me and my siblings to play with. Fast forward 30 years, and thanks to Pinterest, I was able to find an affordable Mud Kitchen DIY design that was easy for us to put together for our kids. You can kind find some pretty elaborate Mud Kitchens online, but at the end of the day, if you plan on making your kids their own Mud Kitchen, try to remember that kids don’t need anything fancy for this. 

Ingredients to use for your Mud Kitchen

The only rule to having a Mud Kitchen is, there is no wrong recipe! Your kids can add as little or as much dirt (we use the cheapest bagged potting soil that we can find) as they like, and mix it with water, rocks, leaves, grass, mixed vegetables, shells, spices, pine cones, twigs, and fallen branches. This year we got creative and pulled some of the mystery plants/weeds that grow behind our garage, and put them in a bowl along with a pair of scissors for the kids to use. This was in essence, them cutting up their “herbs” for whatever they were cooking up in their Mud Kitchen. Another ingredient idea, is to use the lettuce or herbs that are on their way to expiry, in your fridge!
One of the amazing things about Mud Kitchen creations, is how inexpensive it is. We have a H&W Produce near us, and so in the past, we have taken the kids with us to pick out their own ingredients. To be responsible in doing this, we always grab the carrots that are getting soft, wilted chives, soft celery, and sad looking kale. Stuff that’s on its way to the garbage if the store doesn’t sell it.
I can understand that there may be a concern about wasting food when setting up a Mud Kitchen, but if you can do it in a responsible way, I say go for it. I truly believe that exploring in the Mud Kitchen has created healthier eaters in my family. Rarely do my kids see an item on their plate that they aren’t familiar with, know the texture of, or are not accustomed to the smell. I can attribute at least some of that, the exploratory play in our home. So forget the old saying “don’t play with your food” when setting up the Mud Kitchen for your kids! 
Once you’ve got the food ready to go outside, make sure to add utensils, bowls, pots and pans. These can be ones that you’ve gotten from the dollar store or second hand, or they can be the ones that you use in your own kitchen – whatever you’re comfortable with. A couple of my kids’ favorite utensils to use are metal tongs, and an oversized ladle.
I started giving my kids a pair of scissors to use in their Mud Kitchen when they were two and four years old, so they could “chop” their own vegetables. This isn’t necessary if your kids aren’t familiar with scissors yet. They can either break the ingredients up with their hands, or you can chop everything up beforehand. Just remember that nothing is a Mud Kitchen has to be perfect. There is no wrong way of doing this, and if your kids are anything like mine, that will love the opportunity to “cook” something special for you. 
Here are a few pictures of my setups in the past. If you make your own Mud Kitchen, make sure to post a picture and tag us so we can see what you come up with!
Need more mud-kitchn inspiration? Start here!