Don't toss out the old food tray. Here are 12 nifty ideas to try instead

Most people assume food trays have one purpose: to carry food from one place to another. But what do you do with the trays when you no longer need them for food transportation? Throwing them out seems like a waste, but so does taking up cupboard space.
Instead of getting rid of the trays or putting them in storage, try some re-purposing projects. With these, you'll have a new use for that old tray and be able to spruce up your home at the same time.
1. Chalkboard
While most classrooms are getting rid of their chalkboards, home decorators are embracing this product of our childhood. Chalkboard paint has become hugely popular in recent years, and old food trays are the perfect size to become a chalkboard to hang on any wall in your house.
Fancy Momma
2. Chore charts
Create individual chore charts for each kid by hanging an old tray on the wall and attaching magnets representing different chores. Every time a kid finishes a chore, that magnet gets moved to the other side of the tray. It's a fun way for them to see how much progress they're making throughout the day.
Craftaholics Anonymous
3. Memo board
Depending on what your tray is made of, you can use magnets or tape to post reminders and notes to this memo board. If you want to give the tray a personalized look, you can wrap it in fabric or decorative paper to match the theme of the room.
Country Living
4. Portable board games
This works best if you have a metal tray. Before you go on a long car trip, copy the boards of some of your kids' favorite games. Laminate the game board and add magnets to the game pieces and you now have a travelling board game to keep the kids busy on the road.
Choose to Thrive
5. Serving Tray
To upcycle an old food tray into a fancy serving tray, add some paint or fabric. This is an extremely simple, cheap way to turn something ordinary into something that looks pretty and expensive.
Country Living
6. Floor protection
If you're tired of everyone tracking dirt and mud into your house all the time, place an old food tray inside the front or back door. As people enter the house, they can remove their boots and set them on the tray, protecting your floor and keeping the entryway clear of stray shoes.
Apartment Therapy
7. Footed trays
Are your kitchen cabinets a little cluttered? Instead of trying to shove everything haphazardly into a cupboard or a box, put your old food tray to good use as a spice rack. If it still seems to be taking up too much space, add wooden knobs to the bottom to create a footed tray so you can store smaller items underneath the tray.
8. Custom art
Old trays can be used for cheap, easy art projects that will leave you with a piece customized for your home. All you need is some paint, a brush, and maybe some stencils (depending on your level of artistic ability).
Little Things
9. Dry-erase board
You can still turn your tray into a message board, even if you don't want to paint it. White duct tape transforms your tray into a dry-erase board that requires no special paint or fabric. All you need is tape, markers, and erasers.
The Crafty Pikachus
10. Monoprints
Have you always wanted to try monoprinting, but didn't want to deal with the mess? An old food tray is the perfect size and depth for the amount of paint required for this type of art project. After you've finished your masterpiece, clean-up is as easy as rinsing out the tray.
Tinker Lab
11. Alphabet match game
If your kids are starting to recognize and identify their letters, this is the perfect project to help them learn. Use a marker or paint to write all of the letters on tray. Then cut out the letter from a stronger material. Your kids can match the cut-out letters to the ones drawn on the tray.
We Can Do All Things
12. Play tray
If you have a metal tray, you can create a portable play tray for your kids. Use one magnetic clip to hold their coloring page to the tray in the car while another magnetic clip can keep a small bag of crayons attached to the tray.
A Spotted Pony
Now that you know a food tray can do so much more than move food from one room to another, make sure you save the ones you no longer use. You never know when you might need one for a project. And share this list on Facebook so your friends can get some new ideas, too!
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