The Simple Hack That Turns Your Chinese Food Box Into A Dinner Plate

It's somehow always surprising when you open your Chinese takeout container and see how much food can be packed into those tiny white boxes. You may be fine with jamming your fork or chopsticks into one if you plan to graze on your General Tso's chicken or chow mein. Although, you may prefer to dump the whole box onto a plate if you're hungry enough. If the latter sounds familiar to you, we have good news: You can save yourself some clean-up after your meal by simply unfolding your takeout box and using it as a dinner plate instead.

You've likely heard of this Chinese restaurant secret before, but many haven't. At least, not according to the comment section of one TikTok video where many commenters voiced confusion about why the takeout unboxing wasn't already common knowledge. Others lamented about the "wasted dishes" they've gone through because they never thought to reverse engineer the boxes into plates. These iconic, virtually leak-free to-go pails were invented by Americans in the late 1800's and were based on the Japanese art of paper folding, origami. So if it can be folded, it can certainly be unfolded.

Besides minimizing the number of dishes in the sink after your meal, there are a few other benefits to letting your food splay out on the conveniently provided plate before you eat instead of keeping it inside its folded-up container.

Opening Chinese takeout boxes makes reheating easier

While this isn't exactly a hack since takeout boxes were designed to be unfolded, it can be one for those who didn't know it was a thing. TikTok creator @Jennaheats posted a clip showing viewers how to unfold a Chinese takeout box. After being transformed into a plate, her husband is seen prodding at the cube of food, which has retained its shape from being packed to the brim. 


Chinese food box hack. IG: Jennaheats #foodies #foodtiktok #foodontiktok #chinesefood #chinese #hack #mukbang #dinner #food #yum #thericebox

♬ original sound – Jennah Martinez

Once your meal is spread out on this makeshift paper plate, it can be more evenly and thoroughly reheated. Freeing your Chinese food from its claustrophobic constraints is also a great way to serve easy communal meals without craning your neck or reaching over anyone to peer into the box for more. Besides being way more shareable, it's good for the environment when you repurpose the boxes as plates instead of tossing them. These expertly crafted, eco-friendly containers can also be washed and reused for storing other food since their wax coating prevents liquid from seeping into the cardboard. And, because they seal up tightly, takeout boxes generally keep food warmer for longer.

Doubling as plates and to-go boxes all in one, Chinese takeout boxes are as versatile as they are easy to use. You might consider taking them out to enjoy a nice picnic, or you could even bring a few to an upcoming potluck to stash the goods and bring some home to chow down on.