What to Do With Foam Trays from the Supermarket


What to Do With Foam Trays from the Supermarket



Painting and “Sewing” Aid by Deb Cooper


My craft tip was concerning uses for the foam trays that meat comes in from the supermarket. I know that we all get them. I just rinse them off and use them when I am painting. The trays are light enough that they can be held in your hand, large enough to hold several colors of craft or stencil paints, and there is plenty of room for mixing colors. Another thing I do is to punch holes in the trays to make "sewing" projects for my young granddaughters. I make holes in the trays with a pencil and then give them large plastic needles threaded with yarn for them to "sew." This keeps them busy with a project all their own while I am sewing AND you can remove the yarn and keep the trays to "re-sew" at their next visit.


Christmas Decorations or Jewelry by Carol Martin, McAlester, OK


I can think of one craft tip where you use the meat trays from the grocery store and cookie cutters to make tree decorations or package decorations. Cut out shapes using a cookie cutter and a craft knife, and then decorate them using paint, glitter or a watercolor maker. Use a hole-punch to make the hole where you want it to hang from the tree. Another craft tip using meat trays and cookie cutters is to cut out the shape you want, decorate it, and punch the hole in it. Flour a cookie sheet and put the meat tray decorations into your oven at 200 degrees until they shrink and lay flat. Be care taking them out as they are very hot. Use hooks for pierced ears and you have a cute set of earrings or a small chain and you have a bracelet or necklace.


Stencils by Peggy Marcy, West Leyden, NY


Another craft tip I have for use of the foam meat trays is to use them for patterns for stenciling and quilting. They are stronger than cardboard and don't bend, and also are a lot easier to trace around.

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Wow, these are all great idea's! I have used them for painting, but I usually break them up into med. pc's and put them in with the soil for my potted plants. It keeps air circulating, and act's as a filler when you don't need much dirt.

As a small qty consumer, I recycle the small (mushroom size) foam containers for holding my vegies as I chop them for stir fries and just adding them in a timely manner to the pots/pans then pitching them in the sink for washing. One is re-used as my trash/compost container next to my cutting board and thereby saving me trips to my compost bucket. The flat trays are thoroughly washed and re-used though meats or vegetables never touch them again in the freezer. They simply organize my meats and vegies because they make the perfect trays and food separators. The yellow trays hold beef/red meat packages; white hold fish bags/pkgs; blue hold chicken. Keep in mind that my purchases are wrapped in butcher paper and not readily visible so this eliminates wasted time searching badly stacked pkgs in plastic containers.

If you make anything with these, enter the Hot Wire Foam Factory Earth Day Contest! They're taking submissions of projects using recycled/re-purposed styrofoam. Details are here: http://hotwirefoamfactory.com/customer/gallery/2_contest.htm Also, I work with foam using hot wire tools and as long as you're not burning other kinds of foam, EPS foam is relatively safe as the "smoke" you may encounter when cutting it with heat is primarily CO2 and water vapor, which are far less harmful than other common art products like aerosols and paint thinners.

for real ?? not a good tip like who does not know the secondaries of styrofoam burning. you are not teaching the world that way

I have used foam meat trays to build little houses, for kids to play with and also for villages for xmas scenes. They cut easily and glue together just as easily. Can be painted, sequined and fake snow too. Let your imagination go wild, its endless what you can do with them.

I LOVE to read new recycling ideas, but am concerned that melting styrofoam in an oven could be dangerous. The gases emitted by styrofoam can be toxic. Please look into this further before trying this at home.

I think she ment to use the shiny plastic trays of hard plastic. They shrink down like shrinkydinks

Hi all...I work in an after-school program, teaching arts and crafts. Very rewarding to me. We use the meat trays ( supervisors hubby works in a grocery store) when doing bead work.Each child gets a tray to use. Keeps the beads,etc. from falling on floor. But I have to respond to the crafter whose project curled up at sides after toasting. Perhaps your oven was a bit too high, they are all different. Do a lower temp but don't be surprised, they do curl up a little but after removing from the toaster oven, just flatten slightly with a spatula or something similiar.Don't forget to put hole at time before putting in oven! :o) Holly

Put a little bleach in the water when washing the trays, and ounce of prevention, you know. I wish I had a dime for every time I made animals traced from coloring books on one of those trays. Then I poked holes, gave my daughter a threaded yarn needle, and she would be so proud when she realized she made an animal all by herself..Now she is 42, I use the trays to catch drips in the bottom of my garbage can, times they are a changing!!!

I love the sewing idea. Isn't it great when we all share ideas!

very good keep up ideas

I especially like Deb Cooper's idea for little children to sew on trays with holes.

To Deb Cooper.... thanks for the tip of using meat trays to help little ones sew. I do counted cross stitch and my 3-1/2 yr. old granddaughter always want to help me sew. Now I can give her her own tray with holes and yarn and she can sew with me. Diana Zaslow

When I try the object that I cut twisted or buckled out of shape. Did I use the wrong temp or time in oven?

Come on - to Escoba who suggested the trays be washed before using. I'm sure every person thought of that. I can't imagine a single "crafter" who would not have washed the trays first. "Gee, while I'm cooking the chicken, why don't I also craft on the side and save the time and trouble from washing the tray." Other suggestions are great. I didn't know they would shrink to be used in that fashion. Wonderful. My mother used to make beautiful flowers from the egg cartons - and they used to come in such lovely pastel colors. She made tulips, day lillies, and roses.

The directions were very good and easy to follow.

Fabulous Ideas!!! I can hardly wait to try the Shrinking ornaments. I'm all for recycling !!! I actually have a small room just for recyclables. It fills up every week. It's quite amazing that with our wood heat, the mulch pile, and recycling, that we no longer have trash pick up. Another + during these tough times. Thanks Everyone!!! Ridoggs

I use the trays when I am putting togather jewelry sets. They help when organizing, I also use them when I am delivering a meal. ( the tray is used as a plate,but the food items never are placed directly on the foam trays.

I use egg cartons for similar projects. I mostly use them for painting. Each egg divot holds individual paint or you can mix them together on the lid. You can probably think of many used for either cardboard or styrofoam egg cartons.

I use the trays as my palette for acrylic painting and they work great! I also use a tray underneath my bottle of dish soap at the kitchen sink. Helps to keep the area clean and less messy. Also easy to clear and reuse!

Great ideas! I didn't know about the "shrinking" either....Also, I save the meat trays and use them for molds for mosaic tiles...

I had no idea these things would shrink. I'll have to try it before wasting time making anything. Great idea if it works.

excelent idea... its so hard to keep a childs attention sometimes... cool

i never thought about them so from now on i will use them in my crafts that i do thanks jo brown

i have used them all the time for diff things do come in handy when tole painting

These are all really great ideas. I never thought to use them for crafting purposes. My mom has always washed them and used them to season her meats and things when she did not have enough counter space. Now she just might have to find her another way cause me and my daughter will be using them for crafts.

what great ideas never thought of even using them now i want to try a bunch of things.Cant wait to get a hold of some trays. thanks

I think it would be a good idea to thoroughly wash the meat trays first. When I taught art, I even bleached them; you don't want people getting sick!

Perfect material for creating your own stamps...cut into required sizes and shapes and either stick on material to create design, like string or engrave into the foam (carefully). Try using different implements to see which works best, and as its foam, a hot tool could be useful to carve into the material. When design complete, stick onto a block of scrap wood and use as a stamp.

Instead of using fun foam, I use these foam trays to make bunnies. You can get the patterns from coloring books, and then paint them. I also make index card tabs for my index file. I cut 2 of them out and glue them together. I also use foam cups to make hats by putting them in my toaster over and let them melt down and decorate them with ribbons and flowers. You will never get the same one twice.

I cut the trays into smaller squares, all the same size, (big enough to set a glass or coffee cup on), then glue vinyl shelving paper onto them... there is so many colors and patterns of shelving to choose from. You now have an inexpensive set of coffee coasters to match any dcor.

I use foam trays to block small doilies/snowflakes. I set a piece of wax paper on the tray and pin the treated snowflake to it. I reuse it several times.

A good use for the foam trays is to use it under the glue gun to catch the dripping glue.

Draw a floss bobbin on a tray or as many as you can get. Use small fingernail scissors and cut out the bobbins and then wind the floss around making a small slanted cut in one end to secure the floss. They may be a little thicker, but they are free. I love to cross stitch and just for fun I cut a few trays into quarter inch squares; I pasted each square on a piece of cardboard ending with as many squares as in the cross stitch. Let it dry for several days, applied one coat of flat mod podge and then painted each square to match the pattern. I applied several coats of sealer. A beautiful mosaic. Glue many trays together; cut them in the shape of a frame. Do anything you want to finish the frame. I could go on forever.

Thank you for the tips! so far I have only used them to paint with watercolors, acrilic or oil paint. the other uses are super! I found a new use for egg- container. I use them to hold my daily vitamins ( 10 of them) using a permanent marker, I wrote the days of the week on the border. the container lays next to the sugar and cremora, so I don't forget to take them after breakfast. I also use them to keep my earings, one in each hold. Other jewelry are stored also in each" egg-hole" . I can see in a glanze, and they do not get tangled. Added advantage? they stock up real nice! I marked them by category: Summer, Winter, Evening , daytime. Giveaways! I keep jewelry out of fashion and use them as package decorations.

Hate to send your best plates into school with cupcakes, cookies, etc.? Keep the largest foam trays for this. Never wait for a plate or platter to be returned!

I think that the best thing to do with styrofoam trays from the supermarket is to recycle them. Styrofoam is useful, but once used, especially by meat products, it should be recycled so there isn't a chance of anyone becoming ill.

I use them as saucers when I water my plants and use them to protect surfaces that I don't want water damaged

I wash the Tray's in my Dishwasher and use them to freeze Meat Pattie's, use them like paper plates, to hold Paint when I decorate T-Shirts and hold Crumbs for breading Chops or Chicken. The Tray's are also perfect under Plant sixpacks to catch the water overflow.

these are all excellent ideas for using left over styrafoam. thanks all of you. Anne

Martha Stewart actually sells these same trays in her craft line. They come with 4 or 5 and have a lip around them to keep beeds and other small things intact. I found a problem whenever I used syrofoam under a paint project, it would instantly disolve where ever the paint was. So I guess you have to watch how much of the tray is styrofoam. Also, if you cook them, I would not put any food back on, we don't really know what the chemical make-up is. I just remember having a parrot and he could not have foods cooked out of pans due to some chemical issue that would kill him. Which is why I would research the composition of these before allowing small children to play with them, they might get chewed. Maybe I just watch too much "House" LOL Tonya

I also use the tray's to have hamburger patties and hamburger steaks ready to seperate when I only need a few,,but what I do is spray the bottom very lightly with non stick cooking spray such as Pam and spray the next one and place it face down,,I repeat this process until I have all the meat in place,,before I wrap it I use a black sharpie to write the date and the number of hamburger patties or hamburger steaks that is in each tray..I use plastic wrap to be able to see what I have written...I have learned alot from everyones ideas and hope mine help's too.......I also use the same process for Pork chops and chicken.......

Another good use is for shoe, boot or wader insoles. The family pack trays work best because of the size. When my kids were young I use to make a mock shoe to practice tying laces, then you don't have to worry about the shoes being dirty as they learn to tie.

Wow! After all this years of not using my noggin...I love all these ideas and will put them to good use. I just thought of another one..cut 1 inch strips out of the meat trays and punch a row of holes in them. These can now be used to keep the yarn used in embroidery crafts in order. Yea!!!!

When I was young we made foam airplanes. Just like the ones that were made out of balsa wood. You can go to your local grocer and ask for unused trays, this way no risk of contamination ( used ones, even though they use a liner, the trays themselves are very porous which makes them unsanitary). I tell them it's for a craft project with the kids I babysit. For a pattern you can buy a balsa one at Walmart for $1.00 or if you remember how they look, make one from memory.

Some of the uses listed for foam trays with only a quick rinse are scary. Please people wash them with soap and water. Raw meat contains all types of bad stuff. Especially don't use it for childrens crafts. Arleen

Tip from Reader When I was teaching, I used these all the time for kids' crafts and during an inspection the health inspector raised concerns about the safety of them. In one of your instructions, the person said they "just rinse them off" but we were told that we had to wash them well in hot soapy water and if they were from chidken, we also had to disinfect them with bleach (or our special disinfecting solution used on the children's toys and nap mats). Just thought I'd pass this along.

I use the meat trays for squares or small pieces for making quilts or crafts, just stack them up and they are ready to use.

I use them to mark the rows in my garden. Cut them down into smaller "signs" and put on a used plastic fork at the end of the row. Use a marker to write on each one.

i make all typs of stuff. necklaces, xmas , stars. you can heat it after you have made an item painted it real neat

Great idea. I have never thought about saving the trays. I will start now. I like to recycle what I can.

I like all the useful ideas for the foam meat trays, that you get from the grocery store.

I have some more tips for the foam trays from the store When i was younger i used to get them from my mom and then i would punch different shaped and sized patterns and holes out of them and keep them Then on a cold wintery or rainy day i would get them out and heres the plan I would string several of them into necklaces and tie the ends leaving about inches on each end be sure to use thread and not fish line because the line will melt when doing the next step After that i would put them in a degree oven for a few minutes This would make them grow larger it takes about minutes but you want to watch this part because it is safer and fascinating too When they are done growing take them out and add necklace fastenings to each end Now youRead More have a necklace or bracelet keychain etc These are quick and easy to make and fun too You can even sell them Try using the different colors together for other effects The new shaped scissors for crafts and even cookie cutters make great shapes of all kinds

I use them for my lunches of a sandwich and chips instead of buying paper plates. Just the right size for my desk.

I wash mine good with soap and water and reuse them to send food and desserts home with dinner guests. Cheaper then paper or foam plates and you do't have to send your good plates and maybe not get them back. They store easily in the cabinet and come in all sizes and depths.

Using recycled foam meat trays for dividing a large batch of hamburger is so simple it's brilliant! Thanks Crafter 3821611 !! Excellent Idea I will definitely use this idea and many more!

This ia excellent ideas for recycling of products that so many don't know they are good for. I too have an idea for the trays. I wash and dry them and use them in my refrigerator on my glass shelves to put my leftovers in containers so that accidents don't happen and I wind up getting spills on my shelves and avoid unnecessary cleaning. Also in my cheese drawer for keeping my cheeses organized and one for my lunchmeats as well. Mar.8,2010 by boogey

Ive saved the foam trays and let my grand kids decorate them with plastic straws, etc and use them as play boats while bathing. They love it!! They set their soaps on the boats so they don't lose the soap under the bubbles. Ive always reused the trays for meats too. Its so much cheaper to buy bulk meats and split them into serving sizes fit for my family and freeze my meats on the reused trays! We have also used them as wind catchers on the patio. Poke a small hole at the top, add string and let the kids decorate them, use a small amount of outdoor varnish and they last all summer long, spinning in the wind. They have also hung bells from them to make chimes to frighten the animals from the gardens. So many things you can do with them.

Can someone please tell me where the "Add IT" button is?? Thanks

I use them to start my seedlings in the spring - flowers food. They are also useful to cut flat and depending on the strength you want putting a couple together, wrapping around with the clear wide packing tape (makes it easy to wipe off ) and used in the bottom of my hand knitted shopping bags or purses. I just knit in an extra "panel" at the bottom making it look like a pillow case, and sliding my form in. When the bag needs to hit the washer, pull out and go to it. This adds VERY little weight to the bags, and my Granddaughter just loves her stylish purse! Her friends want one too !

I wash, and dry them really good. I reuse them over and over for breading, meat, and vegatables. Then I clean them and reuse them for some other kitchen use. It is so much easier cleaning up the mess this way.

Fabulous ideas I will definately be using this one !!! thanks any more ?

This are good tips!! I will go and use them too!!!!!

I use these trays as dividers when I freeze hamburgers. Cut them into pieces the same size as the burgers.Stack the burgers with pieces of trays in between You can freeze a whole stack of burgers and get just one by placing a case knife in between the tray and burger. No need to thaw more than what you want.

I haven't tried this out myself...But I have friends that have cut the foam trays into shapes, painted them then baked them in the oven like shrinky-dinks.

I use the met trays for vegtable peelings Instead of peeling potatoes carrots onions etc and droping the peel in the sink or on the counter top I just use the tray Super easy clean up Cut pieces in squares or rounds to put your hamburger partties on Stack several patties and wrap well in plastic wrap or foil then put in freezeer They can then be taken out one at a time It's easy to prise them apart with the styrafoam between the patties They also make good ornaments for your porch or outside trees for Christmas The weather cannot harm them so cut out any shape you want and as big as you want How about under a potted plant to catch the excess water If you tilt it down sideways it also makes a pretty nifty dust pan for large items or for those emergencies when you dropRead More that jar of jelly

Great ideas with the meat trays !! Since styrofoam is totally "unfriendly" to the environment, keeping them homework and finding uses for them, makes you a fantastic helper to our planet ) Another use is one I like also, if you enjoy Quilling...use meat trays to stand straight pins in and shape, glue, dry your arrangement.

I punch holes with a regular hole punch and string these "holes" together with a needle and thread to make necklaces that look just like the puka shell necklaces from Hawaii.

I'm an avid beader, and I use the meat trays as a beading tray when creating my jewelry masterpieces. It makes the beading so much easier, as the beads are less likely to spill, the tools, and stringing material is easily portable as well.

I use these for kids crafts. I poke holes around the edges and then the use yarn to wrap aournd and make a decorative frame. Then they can either glue a picture inside (we use old car) they can draw a picture. Depending on age, they can use a dull pencil or pen and outline a picture by pressing into the foam. This makes a very nice impression into the foam and a pretty picture. At Christmas time, tho' you could do this anytime, we punch holes and tie 2,3 or more trays together one below the next, to form a story with pictures( Christmas cards again) telling the Christmas story.

I love that I'm not the only person who uses them for paint evrybody i know thinks i'm strange for doing it. The foam egg cartons work well for paint too i use those for watercolors in particular

Thanks for the painting tip. I have been using cardboard covered with freezer paper as a dispoable palette, but the foam trays are a better idea.

Those ideas are great and I will try them sometime soon. I have something I do with them, I wash them good and let the dry really good. I make silk floral arrangements, wedding bouquets, corsages,boutoneeirs , ect and I use those trays to lay the corsages, boutoneeirs and small headpieces in to deliver them to the bride or groom on the wedding day, you can wrap some plastic wrap around to keep the dirt and dust out till they are needed.

I love these ideas. I will put them into my files and start saving foam trays from the grocery and from work. Great ideas for recycling. I partically like the one about using them for quilting. Thanks for the ideas.

I always wash the foam trays from the supermarket in the dishwasher and then use them with my kindergarten class in school. Flat ones can be used as snack trays, deep ones for paint, glue, glitter...they literally dozens of uses. The large, family-sized ones used for ground beef are deep enough to use as storage for the manipulatives (beads, cubes, etc.) that we use for math. Check with your local schools to see if you can donate your extras.

I've used the foam trays for baby bath toys. cut Plastic Canvas in shapes desired ie donut. Stitch as desired with regular yarn. cut 2 or 3 of the same shape ( a little smaller ) than the plastic canvas shape. Hold all pieces together whip stitch the edges of the plastic canvas together. Tuck in tails. by Cher Sadler, Farmington NM

I have another tip for you. I use acetone and melt the meat trays down for a quick patch on my outside drier vent. I also use the melted trays to make odd jewelry shapes. I use heavy duty rubber gloves when working the acetone out of the mixture and then work quickly as it dries very quick after the acetone is worked out. Just another use for those meat trays.


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