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A second use for foam trays

By on February 6, 2010

photo by oskay

Some produce comes wrapped on foam trays. Rather than throwing them away, they can be reused as paint palettes, crafts or packing material. You can place them in your pantry under items such as oil or honey that might drip or leak on your shelves or make a compass, too. The first reader tip shares more ways to use them.

REUSE TRAYS: My dad uses them instead of plates. He likes them more than plates because they’re lightweight. He can put it on his lap to peel an orange or hold peanut shells because of the raised sides. He also uses it for toast or pizza. When the tray gets ratty, he tosses it and pulls out another. I do use them once in a while (after I’ve sanitized them). I will line a tray with foil and sprinkle sugar or cinnamon in it for when I need to coat the top of a baked cookie. Place the cookie in a tray, spoon the sugars over the top to let it stick, and then put on a cooling rack. I also use a tray to roll around a food item — something that needs breading, for example. To be “frugal” this year, I have the club-pack/family-pack size — the long ones. I’m going to line them with foil and place my baking on them and wrap as gifts. I’ve also seen them used as plant trays to catch the excess water. We do get a lot of these trays, but not from meat. Produce from the Asian stores are cello-wrapped onto them to help protect the produce. — Libby, Canada

BUDGET RECIPES: I used to make trips to the store to pick up ingredients to try a new recipe, which, of course, then lead to a whole cart full of stuff — no more! If I don’t have it already, I make something else. I’ve made that into a challenge for myself — to come up with creative new recipes using what I already have on hand. That way, I still get to try new recipes, but our budget doesn’t suffer. — Amy, Ohio

USING THE WHOLE APPLE: My husband loves homemade apple pie. The last few times I’ve made it for him, I put the peels and cores in an ice-cream bucket that I stored in the freezer. I decided I needed to make room in the freezer, so I took out the bucket. I cut off the stem and blossom ends and then used the cores and peels to make jelly. The skins have enough pectin in them that I didn’t need to buy any extra. You put the peels and cores in a pot, cover them just barely with water, then cook until mushy. Put this mushy concoction into a muslin-lined sieve or colander that you then put over another bigger bowl. (You can also put it in a muslin bag, tie it shut, and hang it over a bowl to drip.) Allow the juices to drain overnight. The next day, measure how much juice you have. Put an amount of sugar equal to the amount of juice you have in a pot. For instance, if you have 2 cups of juice, then add 2 cups of sugar. Boil the sugar and juice until it thickens to jelly consistency. It’s the right consistency when you place a drop of jelly on a chilled plate and it doesn’t run all over the plate — it just stays in a drop. Then pour into clean jars, seal with lids and rings, and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. If you are going to use the jelly right away and will be keeping it in the refrigerator, there’s no need to process it in the water bath. — Katrinka G., Missouri


  1. Forest

    2/7/2010 at 9:23 am

    I’ve never made jelly so this recipe is very enticing to try…. A for reusing the trays, I have been saving them and trying to find random uses, I like the idea of using them to present baked goods as gifts.
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..How To Avoid Going To The Supermarket =-.

  2. Momk

    2/7/2010 at 3:54 pm

    Awesome Jelly recipe and VERY FRUGAL! I love it!

  3. Anna

    2/9/2010 at 11:34 pm

    I used them to “insulate” our chicken coop and barn. Save (wash first) for months on end (grabbing extras from friends), then use dabs of liquid nails to glue them face-down between the studs. Once dry, glue a second, then third layer off-center (like bricks) onto the first layer until you meet the thickness of your studs. Then nail old barnboard (wood slats from pallets also work good) as your “paneling” to finish the wall so your livestock can’t peck at it. The layers slow down air movement and all the little bubbles of air help hold heat. I wouldn’t use this for your house, but to add a little warmth to a building you don’t really care all that much about it’s a freebie and it keeps them out of the landfill.

    I’m starting a new project now … cutting off the sides so they lay flat to insulate between the strapping on the concrete wall in our basement. We’re going to be putting sheetrock there soon and there’s only 3/8″ between the slats and the concrete … just right for 2-3 layers of cut styrofoam-tray bottoms (why pay for 1/4″ styrofoam insulating sheets of it from Home Depot when you’ve already got smaller pieces of the same material in your recycle bin?)

  4. Linda

    2/11/2010 at 10:23 am

    I use the foam trays for paint palettes when doing decorative painting, stencilling, etc. Great for the meat ones as you just wash them and don’t have to worry about sanitizing!

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