What to do with old pans

Published Categorized as Cookware, Cookware Advice, Guide

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Let’s say you’ve just purchased a shiny new cookware set. You’re making room for your new beauties and in the process, you find yourself with a bench full of old pans. What on earth do you do with them? Toss them in the trash? Keep them in the cupboard to get old, dusty and forever unused? Nope.

There are far better and more creative ways to make the most of mature pans…some involve cooking, others involve decor and some involve palming them off as toys to unfussy kids.

Read on to find out what to do with old pans…


Your old pots and pans may be so incredibly old, soiled and warped that they’re just no good to anyone. If you really cannot fathom handing these on to a family member or friend, don’t just toss them out.

Take them to your local recycling center where they can be distributed to the correct places to be recycled and reused according to their materials.


Shelters, refuges and charity organizations are often inundated with clothes and old toys, but they’re rarely offered cookware. Call your local charity centers and offer to bring your pots and pans along.

If there’s no luck there, try your local repertory or amateur theatres. They’re always grateful for donated props! Schools and community training centers are also great options. 

Use as planters

If you have some old pots or pans and a shortage of planters…why not get creative and use your old cookware to house your flowers, veggies and herbs? If you’re skeptical about the aesthetic, just take a quick Google image search and you’ll see how cool it looks.

Pans of different sizes, shapes and colors look amazing when grouped together with different blooms growing from them. You could use a larger, wider saute pan for micro herbs, with a deeper pot next to it for lemongrass or rosemary.

Bunch together a mismatched cluster of deeper pots and plant colorful flowers for a rustic outdoor flower garden.

This is a great option for apartment-dwellers and those who have limited garden space. You could get even more creative and paint the outside of your pots and pans. You’ll save money, reduce waste and end up with a rustically-beautiful garden setting, no matter where you live.

Shed storage

If your old pots and pans just aren’t so pretty and you’d rather keep them out of sight, ship them off to the shed or garage. If you find yourself always looking for places to keep screws, nails, miscellaneous items, batteries etc. use your old cookware.

You could line them up along your garage or shed benchtop with labels (and lids, if need be). No plastic, no soggy cardboard boxes, total organization.

Stash away for camping or emergencies

If you and your family are regular campers, festival-goers or intrepid “picnic-ers”, keep a set of old cookware in your camping basket. Old cookware which you don’t mind getting grubby, burnt, clanged or lost is ideal for camping purposes.

Save yourself the hassle and cost of buying a completely new camping cookware set and use what you’ve already got. While your camping cookware is in storage, fill them with your other camping necessities to save room (i.e. first aid items, canned goods or small utensils).

Use for practical decoration…if they’re good looking pans

Some pans mightn’t be fit for cooking with any longer, but they’re still pretty great looking. If you have copper pans or rustic steel pans lying around, find a place to sit or hang them for aesthetics.

If your kitchen walls have some space to be filled, install some hooks and hang your old pots and pans…but give them a good shine-up first.

If you’d rather make practical use of your old pans, you could use them for kitchen storage. Set a saucepan in the corner of the counter and fill it with your taller utensils such as wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks and fish slices.

You could even use covered pots and pans (i.e. with functional lids) as pantry storage. Keep your packets of rice, pasta and dried grains stashed away in a pan with the lid securely on.

This will avoid the purchasing of plastic goods while still neatly storing dried goods safely away from pantry moths. Here is how to get rid of moths at your house. 

Keep for to the kids or grandkids to play with

Ever seen a baby or toddler playing with a bunch of random objects as opposed to their toys? There’s something about household objects little ones just love to play with, and pans are no exception.

Babies can bang away at them, toddlers can fill them with sand and kids can make-believe that they’re cooking in the kitchen like Mum or Dad. If you have grandkids or littlies of your own, stash a few pots and pans in a cupboard or box, ready to be hauled out when boredom strikes.

Use them as (unexpected) chalkboards

We came across this brilliant idea for repurposing old pots and pans to create chalkboards and we had to pass it on. This idea is specifically for using small pots and pans to label seedlings and plants in the veggie garden.

For large pans, you could hang them on the kitchen wall with rustic rope or twine and use as a DIY chalkboard for shopping lists and notes to the family. Buy a bottle of chalkboard paint and a cheap brush, and give the pots and pans a couple of surface coats to get them chalk-ready.

Get yourself a liquid chalk pen or two (it’s less messy than dry chalk!) and get creative…and practical with your old cookware.


Once your pots and pans are useless to you in a cooking context (aside from camping), they can take on a whole new life of storage, aesthetics and gardening.

Take a look around your home, garden and shed to find areas which are in need of a little organization and sturdy storage.

Give your cookware a colorful coat of paint and use as planters, use as handy pantry storage or simply stash in the camping bag for your next adventure.