Do you have empty food storage cans laying around? If you’re like us, you use food that has been canned in #10 cans. These are the standard bulk food storage cans–approximately 6 1/8″ across and 7″ high. And once they’re opened, they can’t be resealed like a bucket can, so you end up with this:
A bunch of empty #10 cans. It seems a shame to throw away such a sturdy little can, but what can you do with all those empty food storage cans? Well, today we’re going to give you a bunch of ideas–some from my sweet facebook followers, so if you recognize some of these ideas, you may have been the one to suggest it. ;)
And so, without further ado, here is the totally non-comprehensive list of things you can do with empty number 10 cans.
1. Store stuff in them in your garage/shop/shed/etc. They are handy in the shop for holding nuts and bolts and nails and washers and random odds and ends. Also good for catching oil and other nastiness and holding lacquer thinner etc. for cleaning parts.
2. Store more stuff in them in your kitchen. They are handy in the house for storing kitchen foods like spices and mix packets. Also for holding a reasonable amount of foods that you may have stored in buckets in your food storage room and just need a little bit of in your kitchen. Like sugar or flour or oatmeal.
3. Store even more stuff in them in your house. There is more to the list than storing things in the cans, I promise! They’re just so useful for storing things I had to stretch it out over 3 numbers. Use them for art supplies like crayons and markers. Or decorate them up cute by hot glue-ing towels or fabric plus some trim/flowers/ribbon/etc. and use them as bathroom caddies for your cotton balls and whatnots. Additionally, if they’re really cute, they can be entered in your county fair exhibits and earn ribbons like these.
4. Use them for target practice. See, I told you there was more to this list than storing stuff! And if you’re real accurate, you can use the same can for #5.
5. Make some large Tin Can Luminaries. You don’t have to fill them with ice before punching the holes like the instructions say, but it does help the can hold its shape. Very cool for holidays like Halloween (out with the jack-o-lanterns) or Christmas.
6. Make some tin can stilts. Turn the empty can upside down and punch two holes opposite each other near what used to be the bottom. String a string (baling twine works great) through the holes and tie it so you’ve got something to hold on to. Like these only bigger. And you can paint them cute or just leave them silver. They work the same either way.
Or skip the string and just duct tape the cans to your shoes. Really?
7. Punch a couple of drain holes in the bottom and use them for container gardening. Again, you can paint them and make them look quite nice if you’re feeling crafty or just leave them.
8. Use them with some boards to make shelves. Yep, these are painted cute–they are holding up the display shelves at our county fair. But you don’t have to get cute. We had a bookcase made with #10 cans and boards in our kitchen when I was growing up. I’m pretty sure those cans were full, though. (And check out the blue and zebra print bathroom caddies at the left in this picture as well.)
9. Cover the open top with tight fabric or leather secured with a rubber band (or just use the plastic lid that came with the can), add a couple of dowels with wooden beads on the ends and you have a drum. This could be decorated cute and used for a Christmas decoration or as a gift for a musically inclined child. Preferably one not living in your home. ;)
10. Make a “Mr. Potato Head” type guy with magnetic pieces. Cut face parts from craft foam or felt and attach sticky magnets (found in a roll in the craft section of the store) to the pieces. Store all the face parts in the can with the plastic lid on. We made one of these for a road trip when our kids were little. Lots of fun. We had face parts floating around the house stuck to anything metal for quite a few years after that. I’m pretty sure they’re all gone now, but it was a fun little diversion for them on the trip.
11. What? You guys aren’t feeling that crafty? Okay–Here’s a practical one: Save a couple soup cans to go with your #10 can and make a rocket stove. Get a few cans and make stoves with your friends or scout troop.
12. And another not so practical one. Make a puppet on a stick like this guy I made in a college puppetry class. His head is stuffed, but his body is just hanging fabric. Punch/drill a hole slightly larger than the diameter of your stick in the bottom of an empty can and he can pop in and out of the can. Hours of entertainment for little folks. This guy actually had a friend and they shared a can–they were the Two Monsters in a Can. I would demonstrate the two monsters in a can for you, however, since my kids have had access to the puppets for many years, the friend is no longer with us and their can went with him. Maybe I’ll make this guy a home of his own out of another can. I have plenty and he’s homeless . . . Kind of looks sad about the whole situation.
13. Use them for a feed scoop. We do plenty of chicken feeding with the empty cans around here.
14. Use them for rehydrating just-add-water foods away from home. We used this one to mix up our potato flakes on a recent camping trip. Boil the water in another container, and just use the can for mixing and soaking. As a bonus, the can served as the container for all the dry foods we were using for that night’s dinner–super handy!
15. Make a food dehydrator. You’ll need a few more parts than just cans for this crazy contraption, but apparently it works!
16. How cute is this idea? Use them for Easter baskets. (Found this one floating around facebook without a source–if anyone knows the source for this, please let me know and I’ll link to it!)
17. Store more stuff in them. I know you have more stuff. ;)
Okay, that wasn’t 101 ideas, but 16 is a pretty good start. Maybe together we can get to 101. How about you? What do you do with your empty food storage cans?