How To Carry Disposable Aluminum Pans

How To Carry Disposable Aluminum Pans

Looking for tips on how to carry disposable aluminum pans safely?

In my post about freezing food in disposable aluminum pans, I mentioned that I would show how I carry disposable aluminum pans, also called aluminum steam table pans, and foil pans, safely.

And the reason that I’m sharing this, is because in the church kitchen I run on volunteers.

And when you fill disposable aluminum pans, aka foil pans, with food or liquid, they can and will bend and buckle from the weight of what you might have in them.

And I need to make sure that whoever is carrying and or taking pans out of the ovens, warmers or refrigerators can do it safely.

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Why I Use Disposable Aluminum Pans

There are times in the church kitchen when I may have 14 volunteers and then there are times, only 2.

Also, I can 100% guarantee that I’m always going to be in the dish room on a Wednesday night.

After prepping, cooking, serving, and cleaning the kitchen and dining room, I have no energy or desire to be in the dish room scrubbing pans.

So, disposable aluminum pans come to my rescue.

What can you do with these pans?

  1. cook anything in them
  2. use them for hot or cold foods
  3. freeze foods in them
  4. use them as water pans
  5. find just about any use you need to, with disposable pans

What’s The Cost?

You can buy aluminum pans from a grocery store, but they are going to be expensive.

Now, if you’re just buying a disposable pan to take to a one-time event, then a retail store or dollar store is fine.

But if you’re having an event and can buy them in bulk, your cost will be worth it, depending on where you buy them from.

From a local restaurant supply store, you need a business license and membership and I can purchase:

  • 15 full-size pans at a cost of $1.08 a pan
  • 30 half pans for $0.35 a pan

From a local Sams:

  • 50 full-size pans at $0.55 a pan
  • 100 half-size pans at $0.34 a pan

But honestly, I still get all my pans from the Sams Club, because I need to add the price of the pans into my food cost, and the lesser the cost of a pan the less it is per person.

Carrying Disposable Aluminum Pans

There are basically only 3 types of disposable aluminum pans that I use; a deep full-size pan, a shallow full-size pan, and a deep half-size pan.

A deep full-size aluminum pan, a shallow full-size pan and a deep half-size.

These are steam table pans also called hotel pans.

Steam table pans, a full-size deep, full-size shallow and half-size full.
  • Place a deep full-size disposable pan into a 2 1/2′ deep stainless steel steam table pan.
  • Place a full-size shallow disposable pan into a 2 1/2-deep stainless steel pan.
  • Or use a shallow 2 1/2″ stainless steel pan with a half-size shallow disposable pan.
Disposable aluminum pans placed inside sluminum steel pans.

Using Sheet Pans with Steam Table Pans and Aluminum Pans

Another way, I carry disposable aluminum pans is on full and half sheet pans, which makes them even sturdier. But when taking pans out of the refrigerator, warmers, or oven, you still need to be very careful.

Even though you’re using a hotel pan or sheet pan, the pans on top can still slip and slide and become unbalanced, so please be careful.

A full-size and a half-size sheet pan.

I am very careful about what I decide to carry on a sheet pan.

If there is a pan placed on it, picking it up wrong, could cause a big disaster and maybe injury.

Think safety first, just because you can carry it, doesn’t mean everyone else can.

Always keep your volunteers/helpers in mind when doing something in the kitchen.

If I have to use multiple disposable pans for one food item, to make it easier for the volunteers to carry them, I will!!

And just because you might have experience carrying it, doesn’t mean everyone else will know how to carry it.

Use your better judgment when using and carrying these pans with food.

Tips for placing aluminum disposable pans on sheet pans:

  • use the bottom racks of the oven, warmer, or refrigerator when pulling out disposable pans on sheet trays
  • the pans are easier to lift up from the bottom or middle than from the very top or eye level.
  • make sure that your prep table is clear so that when you take your pan out, you can place it immediately on your prep table or rolling rack

Carrying Liquids

  • if you are going to make something like gravy and you’re using disposable pans, make sure to use a steel steam table pan to carry it, not a sheet pan, and only use half-size pans when making gravy
  • if you have a 4′ or 6′ steam table pan, the safe bet is just to use that and skip using disposable pans
  • do not attempt to remove a disposable pan from the oven that is filled with some type of liquid without having a steam table pan under it, the disposable pan can cave in under the weight of the liquid
  • disposable pans can slip and slide around the sheet pans and off the sheet pans
  • half size disposable pans are a lot easier to carry on half-size sheet trays than carrying a full-size disposable pan on a full-size sheet pan
  • if you are not experienced with carrying these pans, do not attempt it!

Sheet Pan Q & A

Can you put an aluminum disposable pan onto a sheet pan, in the oven? Yes, you can. But be very careful when removing the sheet pan from the oven, when another pan has been placed on top of it.

Aluminum disposable pans placed on sheet pans in an oven.

What if the pan is covered with aluminum foil? You can still put it on a sheet pan and most of the time a pan covered with foil is going to boil over if it’s not covered tightly. I place a pan liner on the sheet pan and place the steam table pan in the center.

Aluminum pan covered with foil on a sheet pan in the oven.

Again, be very careful, about what you choose to put on the pans, and always use oven mitts.

Do you need to wash new disposable aluminum pans? Some come in plastic, no you do not. Some come in boxes, no you do not. Some come in a pack with the top pan covered with a label and some type of sticky putty, that is the only pan I will wash.

Can you wash used disposable aluminum pans? yes, you can but they’re disposable for a reason. If I wash a foil pan to keep, it’s to store something non-food related in. In the corner of the pans, they have ridges and food can get trapped in there and if they’re not washed properly, it’s building bacteria.

Can you wash a foil pan in the dishwasher? residential or industrial, yes, they can be run through the dishwasher.

When should you get rid of a disposable aluminum pan? I say after the first use! but you’re probably going to do what you want to do anyway, so if you keep it for whatever reason, get rid of it when you can’t get the food off of it, it’s burnt, it’s worn out, or it’s losing its shape. Remember, that’s why they’re DISPOSABLE!

Safety first!!

Do you have any questions about using disposable pans or sheet pans?



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