We have wanted to buy Elijah a mud kitchen for a while now but couldn't justify spending £100 on a relatively small one that would probably only be used for half of the year. So we took on the challenge of making one ourselves from bits and bobs we found in the shed as well as some freebie finds!
We first needed to find wood to make the mood kitchen structure. We found some offcut pieces of wood in the shed and managed to source some free wood planks from someone off Facebook. If you can't find any wood planks, wooden pallets are also great for this and can be found absolutely everywhere. A lot of people list wooden pallets free to collect on places like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Gumtree. But pallet wood needs to be sanded before being put together. Using photos for reference, we then put the mud kitchen's structure together using nails we already had.
Once the frame was built, we acquired a wide piece of offcut plywood from a relative and used this as the top of the unit. We had two old Addis 9.5 Litre Rectangular Bowls in the shed that we used to wash the car so they were perfect as the 'sinks' of the mud kitchen. But you can use so many things for the sinks: mixing bowls, storage boxes, even old kitchen sinks. We drew around the two bowls to see where they would be on the wood surface. Then we cut these holes out so the sinks could fit in nicely.
We wanted to make hobs for the top of the kitchen and they were actually made from cutting an old wooden chopping board into two circles! As simple as that! Once they were painted in red paint we already had, they really came to life! If you don't have any paint for the small bits at home, tester pots from local hardware stores are relatively cheap at £1-£2 per pot. All of the mud kitchen was then sanded and painted. We used leftover fence paint just to secure the wood and protect it from the weather. But you don't have to paint the mud kitchen if you don't want to - the majority of mud kitchens that you can buy from shops use unpainted wood.
Once the mud kitchen was fully dry it was then time to add all of the mud kitchen elements! The sink bowls were placed in their designated holes and glued into place as well as the two red hobs. A utensil rack was made out of an old camping chair leg, cut to size. But you can use anything here to hang the kitchen utensils from - or instead of a utensil rack, make a little shelf out of the wood you have gathered to store the utensils and pots and pans.
We found some old plastic plates, cups, and salt and pepper shakers out of a picnic basket someone had bought us for Christmas a few years ago. These were perfect for the mud kitchen as they are hardwearing and much safer for the little ones to use than glass. But we ideally want to replace them with wooden pots, pans, and plates in the future! The only bits we went out and bought for the mud kitchen were the utensils and two pans from Poundland. In total, we spent just £7 which compared to what we were looking at spending, is a complete steal!
We aren't totally finished with the mud kitchen yet as I want to add a chalkboard on the right-hand side and a little shelf with ingredients on. But for now, Elijah absolutely loves playing with it. His favourite thing to do is mix pebbles, mud, and sand around in the sink and pour the mixture into the cups. He can't wait for his cousin to come round and play too!
If you're thinking of making your own mud kitchen but don't want to go through the trouble of collecting the wood and building the kitchen yourself, another great idea is to upcycle a second-hand wooden play kitchen. You can buy them for £1-£25 on second-hand websites, and after a lick of garden paint, they are absolutely perfect!