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10 Food Container Hacks You Probably Didn’t Know About

Updated: Nov. 18, 2022

These design features on common food containers are genius!

gif of various food container hacks
Ali Blumenthal For Reader's Digest

Eat smarter, not harder

You’re a wiz when it comes to kitchen hacks, but have you mastered food packaging too? While the containers that hold your morning yogurt and the cups that keep your coffee hot seem self-explanatory, there are some tricks you may not have thought of before. Some food storage containers were designed with these hacks in mind, while others have users to thank for these useful tricks. Regardless of who thought them up, these hacks make eating just a little bit easier. So before you throw out these containers, learn just how useful they can be.
ketchup in unfolded kethup cup to allow for easier dipping
Ali Blumenthal For Reader's Digest

Ketchup cups: Fan out

Dunk a double-patty cheeseburger (or a handful of fries) into a tiny paper cup, and more ketchup will coat the table than your grub. Good news: Those frustratingly small paper cups are designed to be fanned to better accommodate your food. Tug outward on the upper rim of the cup to expand.

chinese take out container unfolded to act more like a plate
Ali Blumenthal For Reader's Digest

Chinese takeout boxes: Unfold

Chinese takeout boxes are meant to unfold into a plate for easier chowing down. Translation? No more greasy hands from digging into the box. Simply untuck the sides of the box. If you don’t finish your food in one sitting, easily refold the container into a box.

plastic drink lid being used as a coaster for disposable coffee cup
Ali Blumenthal For Reader's Digest

Plastic drink lids: Use as coasters

Investigate your plastic drink lid. Most have three small bumps along the top rim, which match the ridges in the bottom of the cup. Place your cup on the plastic lid for a convenient coaster. Sayonara, water rings. Unlike your plastic drink lid, here are a few items in your kitchen you need to throw out already.

yogurt container with topping compartment folded to pour topping into yogurt
Ali Blumenthal For Reader's Digest

Yogurt containers: Fold in half

Chances are, you’ve spotted Greek yogurt with a handy topping compartment filled with honey, fruit, or other goodness. You’ve probably tried (and failed) to get it out with a spoon. Put the cutlery down: Most containers with separate toppings are meant to fold in half. Simply bend and pour the toppings into the yogurt.

tic tac package on its side with one tic tac resting in the indentation on the interior of the serving flap
Ali Blumenthal For Reader's Digest

Tic Tac containers: Practice portion control

Make use of the crater on the underside of the lid, which nicely holds exactly one Tic Tac. Turn the container upside down, give it a little shake, and slowly open the lid while tilting the box horizontally so the other mints don’t fall out. One Tic Tac will be awaiting you in its designated spot.

can of soda with the tab turned toward the opening to hold a drinking straw
Ali Blumenthal For Reader's Digest

Soda can: Hold a straw in place

For nights of sophistication—or any other times you use a straw in a soda can—push the tab toward the can’s opening. Poke the straw through the tab to hold the straw in place. Ta-da! No more blindly chasing a straw while watching reruns. If you typically get the bottled version, learn what a yellow cap on Coca-Cola really means.

orange juice box on yellow background
rd.com, Getty Images

Juice box: Fold flaps upward

Besides a handy straw, juice boxes come with little flaps that you can fold upward for gripping. Hold them as you sip so you don’t accidentally squeeze juice all over yourself.

spoon resting on the handle of a pot
rd.com, Getty Images (2)

Pans: Rest spoons on the handle

While you can (and should) hang your pans by their handles, you can do more with the long stretch of metal than simply get a grip while cooking. Pan handles double as spoon rests! Instead of laying your spoon on your dirty countertop, just balance it against the handle.

mcdonalds french fries in carton on yellow background
rd.com, Courtesy McDonald's

French fry boxes: Fold back

This one is a game changer. Many fast-food french fry boxes have a place to fold back the top of the box, which can then be used as a ketchup rack. While this isn’t enough space for the whole bottle, there’s definitely enough room for a dollop of your favorite dipping sauce.

pile of fruit loops cereal on yellow background
rd.com, Getty Images

Mini cereal boxes: Fold into bowls

Is it just us, or does cereal taste better out of a tiny box? Well, you may have noticed that the cardboard box has a perforated “H” shape on one side. Lay the box flat, cut along the “H” (and through the plastic wrapping), and you have yourself a makeshift bowl. And yes, it does hold milk. Next, read up on what the colored circles on food packages actually mean.