Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning, a month-long series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than five minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that basically…do themselves—plus our trustiest tools and helpers. The goal: clean less, go outside more.
Until recently, I believed that I was immune to the “Target spell”. The phenomenon of walking into a Target thinking you’re going to walk out with the dish soap you needed, and only the dish soap you needed, but walking out with a yoga mat, an impossibly fuzzy blanket, and a whole set of acrylic paints—because this quarantine hobby will pan out, right?
On a recent catharsis trip to said retail heaven, I thought I’d pick up some cleaning supplies and that’s pretty much it. To no one’s surprise at this point, I walked out with much more than that, including a couple of sturdy, lightweight baking sheets in the quarter- and eighth-sheet sizes (read: the cute ones).
I had visions of baking pint-size slab pies (because, at the moment, I don’t have 40 people to feed, but I love that shape), mini crumb cakes, individual Detroit-style pizzas, the list goes on.
Ultimately, and unexpectedly, I ended up using them in various rooms in the house outside of my kitchen. Because I repurposed them while new—and therefore shiny and not marked by the oven—I could use them for non-cooking purposes and they didn’t look or feel out of place. They began to serve as organizers, mess-catchers, and crafting tools, their sturdy build making them striking as they are dependable. I reach for them in a number of ways around the house—including more unexpected ways in the kitchen.
Here are just a handful of ways I truly think these little trays could be helpful around the house:
Admittedly, I am the above-mentioned acrylic paint-buyer and have tried my hand at various projects over quarantine. The eighth- or quarter-sheets could certainly be used as a perch for paints, as well as a drip-catcher, brush rest, and general art-making or kids’ crafting station (with all of the inevitable mess-making that comes with that). My next plan is to use mine as a home-base for collaging, to catch all of the little cut-outs that I otherwise just gather in a random pile or that fly off to random corners of my room (much more likely).
I use my quarter-sheet to corral my miscellaneous candle collection, and plan to use an eighth sheet to organize all of the serums and skincare accoutrements that otherwise make a randomized mess of my bathroom. And yes, I’ve heard of vanity trays, but the brushed silver look, low price point, and easy-to-clean surface make these trays a great solution for collecting bits and bobs in one place (at least until I find the perfect vintage iteration on Etsy, after many rabbit-hole searches).
Both smaller sheet sizes can be used as little utility stations outside of crafting. The eighth-sheet could be used as a place to gather oils, vinegars, and seasonings to keep the items tidy (stove-side or in-cabinet), in the refrigerator to group leftovers, or for your condiment collection to avoid spillage. Personally, I’ve used it as a bottle-making station when babysitting my nine-month-old nephew. The sticky baby formula never makes it neatly into the bottle and I hate wiping it off the countertop, so it’s nice to have one spot for formula to hang out where it won’t make a sticky, smelly mess of everything else. Then, later, I can just throw it in the sink to clean.
Personally, this is my favorite way to use my lil’ baking trays: eating dinner (and lunch and snack) in bed. I’m pretty sure no one actually owns one of those breakfast-in-bed trays that children bring to their mom on Mother’s Day in the movies and, turns out, we never needed them! My quarter sheet is the perfect size for a tray of sushi and glass of wine and very much enables my dinner-in-bed-with-TV habit (and I don’t mind one bit). Founder of Seemore Meats and Veggies Cara Nicoletti is a fan of this move, and makes way prettier displays of it than I ever could. As far as food goes, I also wouldn’t say no to using it as a charcuterie board or hors d’oeuvre tray, either.
And, in the end, if you do find a vintage vanity tray you’ve always wanted or give up your burgeoning painting hobby, you can always wash the trays and use them for what they were intended: baking off a single cookie every night before bed, or roasting veggies and the like, like you maybe normally would.
What things (besides cookies) would you put on a baking sheet? Tell us below!
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