Unique Uses for Portion Cups (They Can Do More Than Hold Ketchup!)3 clear portion cups. they are holding coleslaw, potato salad, and cranberry sauce. a molded fiber portion cup holding ketchup

Unique Uses for Portion Cups (They Can Do More Than Hold Ketchup!)

As their name suggests, portion cups are perfect for dividing small portions or keeping items separate. Their usefulness goes beyond restaurants and takeout bags, as well. Below, we look at some of the conventional and no so conventional uses for these little containers and lids.

Save Time and Money

Portion cups and lids are designed for holding condiments and sauces on the side either in restaurants or in takeout and delivery orders. For example, nachos often come with side ingredients like salsa, guacamole, or sour cream. Using a portion cup to serve these items allows kitchen staff to easily portion the desired amount without needing to measure. This can also help save your restaurant money.

If your inventory needs are predictable for the day, side sauces and ingredients can be pre-portioned into portion cups, covered with lids, and then safely stored until an order comes in later in the day. (Of course, try not to over-prepare as doing so might lead to wastage.) Using lids is of course not only more sanitary, but it means that items can be multi stacked in the refrigerator to save on space.

More Sanitary and Convenient

Grocery stores or markets wanting to offer samples might do so by serving the item in a portion cup. Doing so is much less messy and more sanitary than offering customers a sample on a napkin. Using cups also allows you to offer a wider range of samples than is possible with napkins.

Range of Sizes

Our portion cups and lids are available in a variety of sizes, including 1 oz, 1.5 oz, 2 oz, 3.25 oz, and 4 oz. Condiments for burgers and sandwiches, or dressings for salads generally go into smaller containers, while sauces might need a bit more space. Our largest size portion cup equals half a cup and can be used to serve sides of items like coleslaw, guacamole, or gravy.

Less Conventional Uses

As mentioned above, portion cups and lids are useful outside of restaurants, too.

Medical Facilities

Portion cups are a sanitary and efficient way of distributing medications to patients, especially if the person is taking multiple pills at a time. Medications can safely be portioned correctly according to the patients’ needs.

In Science Class

One creative use includes using them as a place for germinating seeds. This is a great activity for kids in elementary school or in after school clubs to learn about how plants grow from seed.
Fill a 3.25 oz or 4 oz portion cup almost to the top with soil, plant the seeds, and cover them with soil. Water as necessary in the coming days. Once the seeds have started to root and sprout, the plant can be moved to a more appropriately sized container for the plant’s future needs. We have both black and clear plastic portion cups available, but using a translucent cup means you might be able to see some roots as they creep towards the outside of the cup.

Fun with Paint in Art Class

Another less traditional use for portion cups is their use in art classes! They can be used to portion out paint in the classroom or at home. Using portion cups is less messy than using a palette or egg carton. Palettes easily get spilled or knocked over, and egg cartons quickly get soggy.
Portion cups also let kids experiment with mixing colors more easily. It is easier to be intentional in creating new combinations when there’s a clean surface, or cup, to start from. Letting younger kids help you add just the right amount of one color to another color brings about an enthusiastic curiosity for their young minds.

Keep Little Items Organized

Small, hard to keep track of items like beads can be easily organized using portion cups. Beads can be organized by whatever system you prefer. You can get very precise or broad in your organizing; it’s whatever works best for you.

As an example, I work to be very precise with my organization of beads and other jewelry supplies because I find it easier to visualize the pattern and final product I want if everything is sort according to their own kind/color/size. This method can be very helpful for people working with students, or who are beginners themselves. It makes it harder to choose the “wrong” item when everything is sorted precisely. Of course, some people don’t enjoy working with that level of organization, but still find the portion cups to be a good storage solution between beading sessions or classes.

Very small items like screws, nuts, bolts can also be organized according to size in portion cups. This is helpful for storing odds and ends in a workshop. It can keep items for each student organized when teaching a class, especially at a beginning level.


These small but mighty cups have proven themselves to be most useful in a variety of ways. They are designed to help easily measure a portion size in restaurant kitchens and are especially popular in takeout and delivery orders. However, like many products, their use expands beyond the original intent. Classroom projects like planting seeds and watching them grow, or organizing items like beads and screws, or portioning paint for students.