The winter holiday festivities have come and gone. But after the inevitable baking, entertaining, giving, and receiving associated with the season, do you find you have more than a few leftover aluminum pie pans?
The good news, as you may already know, is that aluminum pans are recyclable. But before you toss them in the recycling bin, you might want to see if you can get more use out of them. Here are a few reuse and upcycling ideas — from the practical to the crafty — for those old aluminum pans.
1. Feed the Birds — and Squirrels
Birds, squirrels, and other wildlife tend to have trouble finding food during the chilly winter months. Give back to the friendly critters in your yard by creating a low-cost feeder from an aluminum pie pan.
Simply place the pan on a flat surface outdoors, weigh it down with a rock from the yard and fill it with the birdseed of your choice. Your feathered friends will thank you — perhaps with a chirp or two — if the squirrels don’t eat it all first.
2. Use Pie Pans for Crafts
Aluminum pans are perfect for crafting, especially with young children. Use them as palettes for paints. Or store your beads, glitters, and glues in them while working on a project with the kids.
After craft time, simply wash your pan well with warm water and dry it. Then, you can either save it for future crafts or place it in the recycling bin.
3. Deck the Halls
If you want to get a little rustic with your decorating, take a lesson from the ages. In the past, people crafted holiday ornaments from old cans and scrap tinplate. With a bit of work and creativity, you can craft your own traditional-style ornaments. All you’ll need is aluminum pans and a few basic tools to get the job done.
4. Keep Candles From Making a Mess
Pillar candles tend to drip, and a big mess definitely ruins the ambiance. Save your surfaces by placing an aluminum pie pan under your candles before lighting them.
If you’re concerned that an aluminum pan may clash with your décor, simply cut out the bottom using heavy-duty scissors and toss the sides in the recycling bin. The flat aluminum circle will be less conspicuous but will still protect your tables from dripping wax.
5. Feed Fido On the Go
Since they’re lightweight but fairly sturdy, aluminum pie pans are perfect for on-the-go pet dishes.
Save them with your outdoor gear and use them for food and water bowls on your next camping trip, picnic, or beach excursion.
6. Make Picture Frames
SFGate.com contributor Mary Love suggests using pie pans as alternative picture frames or frames for displaying your child’s art. Simply paint the plate with craft paint, cut a circle from a photo, and glue it into place. Glue a magnet on the back to display the picture on your fridge.
7. Reduce the Mess While Cooking
Networx.com writer Sayward Rebhal suggests using old pie pans as baskets for grilling veggies. To prevent your vegetables from falling into the coals, simply poke a few holes in aluminum pan, fill it with your veggies, and put the whole thing on the grill.
An aluminum pan with small holes is also great for reducing messes while frying foods on the stove. If you’re dealing with a lot of oil spatter, simply place the pie pan over your food in the frying pan to protect yourself and your kitchen from hot cooking oil.
8. Cookout Tools
ChasingGreen.com suggests using old aluminum pans to protect your hands when toasting food on a stick over a fire during an outdoor cookout.
Simply punch two holes in opposite sides of a pan. Then slide the stick you’ll use for toasting your marshmallows or hot dogs through the holes. The aluminum will be at one end of the stick and you will spear your food on the other end. The aluminum creates a heat shield for your hand while you hold your food over the fire or coals.
9. Garden Planter
Although this isn’t a reuse idea for pie-sized pans, we thought we’d include it as you may also have some larger aluminum pans you’d like to reuse before you recycle them.
The contributors at ThriftyFun.org suggest using an old aluminum roasting or loaf pan as a planter for the garden. These larger pans can hold multiple seed pots when you’re starting your seedlings in the spring. They’ll hold water, and with their higher edges, the pans can keep your seedlings upright and stable.
Editor’s note: Originally published on November 27, 2013, this article was updated in January 2020.
Feature image courtesy of Happy Krissy