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TV Dinner Style Minus the Plastic

by Tiffany in A Green Home


A reader recently emailed me and asked if I knew where she could find glass plates that were sectioned or divided kind of like a bento or a tv dinner tray. She was having trouble finding anything like that and when she did they were no longer in stock. Well, that email sent me on a hunt to track down an option for this mom and along the way I fell in love with this concept.

As you most likely know I love bentos so it is not a stretch to see why I would also love idea of a tray or plate with dividers….like they use in schools. There are plates like this for babies but I never really saw any for older kids and the baby ones are plastic. I know my own kids love to use old baby plates we used with my youngest. They love the little compartments for each food but we stopped using them because they were old and most likely contain BPA. Or they were Melamine which we also won’t use. Well thank you Angela for giving me this idea, the picture above shows some vintage ceramic TV trays I scored for my own kids. Of course the thing about vintage is that you need to check etsy, eBay, Craigslist, or local antique stores to find them but you never know! These particular plates (above) can be put in the microwave or oven but I don’t intend to do either.

Non vintage options are around as well. First up is the BIA Cordon Bleu 12-Inch TV Dinner Trays Set. These are very retro looking trays (love that) and are made of durable white porcelain and stoneware. They have room for the main dish, a dessert, and two sides. Very fun! 

There is also the plain BIA White TV Tray but they only one left on Amazon and 2 on the source web site at Retro Planet. This may just be a low sale item so they order more if they have a definite buyer. A call to the seller never hurts.

Here is a stonewear divided plate that is pretty cute but pretty darn pricey as well.

Another option is stainless steel and Amazon has one for younger kids in their Reed & Barton Sea Tails Baby’s Divided Stainless Whale Plate. Very cute but kind of small for my kids I think.

I also found other examples of stainless steel “mess trays” as they called and this military surplus store sells them. I also spotted a set of 4 on eBay.

Other ideas might be to check Craigslist or local Army surplus stores. I used to visit the Army surplus stores a lot  as a teen…I had a thing for the fatigues, the boots, the canvas duffles, etc. I remember seeing steel plates in there. Old camping gear might have something like this too.

Some company needs to step up and make a new line of glass, ceramic and/or steel TV dinner trays and divided plates!

  • Yeah, my thought was to check thrift stores and maybe even restaurant surplus shops. Course you would have to know what the trays are made of before buying them. Cool ideas!

  • I found some on ebay by Corelle. They are glass, but pretty much non-breakable

  • I grew up with this stuff – glad to see it still exists around the place. Be sure to post an update if anyone sees a reliable and consistent source for these.


  • Rain Cloud

    oh please don’t buy or use the Vaseline Glass plates…they contain low levels of Uranium therefore are radioactive! You can even make them fluoresce under a black light!

  • Tiffany, thanks for bringing back a childhood memory for me! My family used mess trays (at that time they were plastic). I think my mom liked this idea cuz we did fill the “mess hall”, all of us 8 kids! I am going to add your site to my upcoming link love on familyfoodies :)

  • Angela

    Thanks for those links Tiffany and for such a timely response. It’s a shame NEW stoneware for kids is not more abundant. Especially now that we know more about plastics.

    What do you Nature Moms think about pottery plates for kids? I spotted some pricey ones – $70 !! – but that’s probably because they were personalized with the child’s name. Still, those don’t look like what I call “real” pottery … they’re more like Color Clay Cafe mass-produced “blanks” that have been customized. I’m an artist, so naturally, the thought of creating real pottery plates occurred to me.

    Otherwise, it’s kind of fun to find the antique kid’s plates, and sometimes the prices are fair… I’ve seen a few from $10 to $30. It IS wonderful to know those are still around!

  • Katherine

    I just ordered some Trudeau Party Plates, which are divided and made of stoneware from Amazon. There seemed to be a number of options under fondue plates, some of which were ceramic, and also they are smaller than the diner plates, which is good for my three year old.

  • AJ

    What a wonderful entry! The links and information you shared is WONDERFUL! I was just browsing the army tray idea!

    The Daxin trays you have in the picture, do you know if they are lead free? I have a set and have been apprehensive to use them because of Daxins lead history. I’d love to know if they are lead safe, I worry about their past use of ltoxic level ead glazes.

    And thanks to Katherine (above comment), I had not thought of fondue plates – I am planning to order the set you mentioned!! Beautiful!

  • Liz

    The first link gives a discount when ordering more than one. (I’d already placed my order at Amazon :o(

    I spent a lot of time trying to find a nice sized trays with deep sections for both me and my 4 year old and decided on the white ones.

    Thank you for posting about these!!!!

  • Kirk

    I’ve seen the “Sing Sing” prison trays (plastic, blah) and wanted to find a metal version, which I guess is the military surplus kind.

    Have you looked at Thali stainless steel plates? They’re used for Indian cuisine.

    I love the round plates, I need to order a bunch :)

  • ama_mama

    According to, she found ceramic divided dinner trays for her daughter at “Daiso”. There seem to be stores in the northern Ca. area and Washington state but alas, no online store.

  • Denise sells stainless steel picnic trays for $3.95 each. I’m not sure of the quality but wanted something inexpensive since I wanted to order a lot for outdoor parties.

  • Lindsey

    You can also search “Thali” platter or plate. Food in India is often served on metal trays with divided compartments. Sometimes the compartments are removable, sometimes not. Good luck!

  • Alison

    These look interesting and they are earth friendly!

  • Jessica

    This post was SO helpful!

    Any ideas about making your own TV dinners and freezing them without plastic? My friend and i would like to try it, but she’s worried that without a lid and without the steaming effect of plastic, the frozen foods wont be the same.

  • Meenu also carries stainless steel divided dinner trays, kids tumblers and stainless steel lunch boxes for adults and kids.

  • Marie

    I found your blog while looking for the very type of dinner plates in this post!!! Thank you so very much for saving me the trouble of a “mad” search!!!! Once I place my order, you can bet I’m coming back to read!!
    Thanks a bunch

  • Jeanne Marie

    Do any of these come with lids?