Introduction: Backseat Caddy

Picture of Backseat Caddy

Road trips are fun. Trying to feed little kids from the front seat of a moving car, not so much. This “caddy” provides an easily cleaned food tray complete with cup holders, making lunch on the go a little easier.

For less than 20 bucks and 20 minutes you can have one too. NO TOOLS REQUIRED. Here is what you need.

Plastic Paint Tray: $2.98
Two 3” Plastic Fittings: $9.10
Epoxy Putty: $4.98

Back round:
When this idea popped into my head I had all kinds of aspirations. I wanted to make a template of the back seat, lay out curves, break all my wood working stuff, and go to town. But, in the end I thought, what good is a travel tip if Mom & Dad Q. Citizen don‘t have access to it. For that reason this is as simple as I could possibly make it.

Step 1: Prepare the Plastics

Picture of Prepare the Plastics

Take a piece of 100 grit sand paper and rough up the bottom of the fittings. Next rough up the lower inner diameter about a ¼ inch or so.

Take the fittings and place them in the corners of the paint tray. With downward pressure rotate the fittings against the tray. This will lightly scratch in a circle. Use that mark as a guide when you rough up the tray side with the sand paper.

Step 2: Epoxy Putty

Picture of Epoxy Putty

Cut a section of putty about a half an inch wide. Kneed the putty between your fingers until it’s a uniform color. Make sure to dampen your fingers before you do this. Otherwise it will stick to your skin. The putty sets in 20 minutes.

Wet a flat surface and roll the putty into a snake. With the fittings in place, press the putty into the corners between the tray and fittings. Keep your fingers wet.

Set the tray aside and let it cure.

Step 3: Get a Towel

Picture of Get a Towel

To keep the tray from slipping around, loop a few thick rubber bands at the rear of the tray. Then fold a bath towel into fourths.

Run the bath towel under the tray and through the rubber bands. Leave some excess towel at the non-cup side of the tray.

Step 4: Tuck It In

Picture of Tuck It In

Place the caddy in the back seat. Tuck the towel in between the seat and the seat back. Depending on the angle, you may need to adjust the towel under the tray.

Don't forget to stop by In-N-Out on your way to the beach.


EcoExpatMike (author)2015-07-31

I am so going to build one for my kids once I drag them to America (here the only transportation is by motorcycle sidecar taxi...)

RingoWild (author)2014-10-06

Love it! Thanks for sharing!

KLester78 (author)2014-10-02

This is GREAT! We have a heavy vinyl tablecloth covering our backseat (even goes under the car seats) This is going to be great because cost wise, I just haven't wanted to spend much since the 2 granddaughters don't go with us daily or even weekly. When we do go, it does involve eating/snacking during the times from one part of our adventures to the next one. Thank you so much!!!

mefromliny (author)2012-04-28

I love the towel part! Well done!

KyaNyght (author)2011-10-16

Great idea. I think I will make a separate tray for each of my kids to hold in their laps (since I have 3 kids). That way they can even use ketchup and I don't have to worry about my upholstery.

MonkeyBoy3217 (author)2011-08-26

Okay I should get IN-N-OUT to sell these they would make some good money, course Mrballeng would get some money too

mblack3 (author)2011-08-21

Excellent idea! Wonder why I didn't think of this!

bcarter-1 (author)2011-06-15

Who has ideas about how to make one for the middle of two mini-van seats where there is no seat in between? I guess I could put it on top of a cooler or such for long road trips, but what about the everyday trip and the practicality of having it somehow always available? Flip down from one seat or the other? Drop from ceiling? Looking for creative ideas.

Fun2Hold (author)bcarter-12011-07-24

I'm actually thinking about the same thing - I'm thinking of mounting it between the arm rests that fold down on both seats. Maybe some kind of PVC mounted on the bottom of the tray to slide over the armrests and a folding anchor on the back to make sure it doesn't shoot forward.

Hey, Mrballeng, do you mind if I steal part of your idea? If I can build this thing, I'm thinking of making it an 'ible of my own (big IF - I'm not very handy, sadly). I'll give credit of course for the source.

Mrballeng (author)bcarter-12011-06-16

Take a picture of the spot your working with and I'm sure we'll get you an answer.

KottonKandy (author)2011-07-14

I like your instructables, I like your ideas, and now I like you even more, because you go to In-N-Out! hahha! :) :)
Good idea! Very useful!

tnt.thomas (author)2011-06-17

Don't some paint trays have "ladder hooks" under them? I'm thinking off top of my head but those hooks could be seat-belted and hold in place without the towel variation? I have no cup holders in my old Integra. Normally driving solo, especially on long trips, so this would be great. And easy to toss in the trunk with passengers aboard. Or belted into backseat where the passenger can reach maybe!??

Very cool idea! Hats Off!

chibimaddy (author)2011-06-08

Very nice! Thanks for sharing. I've never used the JB plastic. Can you tell me if it gets hot while it cures?

Mrballeng (author)chibimaddy2011-06-08

Stays cool the whole time. Thanks

rvsnmms (author)2011-06-05

Not only is this an awesome Instructable, it's a great idea my only criticism is with the use of In-n-Out burgers... see I live in Seattle and we don't get In-n-Out burgers this far north, totally unfair. The only way I can forgive you is if you promise to raise your next Double Double towards Seattle and nod for those less fortunate. I love me some In-n-Out.

Mrballeng (author)rvsnmms2011-06-07

I''ll promise to raise my "#1 animal style" as long as you do the same the next time your at Pike Place Market. I miss those shiskabobs.

rvsnmms (author)Mrballeng2011-06-08

Consider it done brother!

CazzPhoenix (author)2011-06-08

You stole my idea and made it easier... how dare you.

Guess I've got a shopping list now. thanks I guess :-P

earlyflyer (author)2011-06-06

Brilliant! I'm making one before our next road trip...

anode505 (author)2011-06-06

Love it. Got a tray from the dollar store, and gonna pop rivet in a couple of tin cans (re-purpose ) Dab of sillycone to keep the sweat from leaking through the rivet hole.

onemoroni1 (author)2011-06-05

This is a great idea, easy to do, and very practical. Thanks. My standard cab Nissan truck has no cup holders. I'm thinking of making a skinnier version to fit in the middle of the modest seat. Now why would I do this with all the after market stuff at Pep Boys? Because it is largely impractical for universal use and I can customize mine, like yours.

Mrballeng (author)onemoroni12011-06-05

The 9" paint trays are right next to the 12" ones.

onemoroni1 (author)Mrballeng2011-06-05

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll post my own when I make it.

recycledgrandma (author)2011-06-05

I did something similar with a milk-crate-with-handle on wheels (Staples). I purchased a heavy large-width ceramic cup from my friendly dollar store. It's heavy enough that it stays in place without the epoxy. No more spilt coffee (and if any spills, it spills into the cup which is washable). I like your idea for the car. Thanks.

I used to have a 535 Yamaha Virago Motorcycle. I cut apart a tennis ball basket and re-welded it back together as a little cargo area over the rear fender.. Hearing about your crate reminded me of it.

lmillspa (author)2011-06-05

This could be a good 'green' replacement for when you make coffee runs for your office or housemates, by eliminating the need for the disposable drink holder. Love it!

Mrballeng (author)lmillspa2011-06-05

Hey that's a great idea. Glue a bunch of fittings in the tray and be the slurpee hero on a hot summer day.

SacTownSue (author)2011-06-05

I love this idea. I wasn't familiar with those plastic fittings and have been looking for something like that. At first I thought the tray was from inside the restraurant. :) Did you consider using some of the rubbery non-slip shelf liner instead of the towel?

Mrballeng (author)SacTownSue2011-06-05

Yes that did cross my mind. I thought if the project was simple other people would be better able to make it fit their likes. However the towel does help adjust the angle of the tray. I also thought of placing a pouch filled with rice or sand underneath to adjust for the angle.

tmaragakis (author)2011-06-05

Lol great instructable but judging by the baby seats, your kids are too young for junk-food :P Aren't you scared of obesity at all?

Mrballeng (author)tmaragakis2011-06-05

My wife is a great cook and I'd rather eat her food then prepared food I could buy. So fortunately we don't eat out that often.

ravyotaman (author)tmaragakis2011-06-05

With all due respect who are you to be making judgments about what other people feed their children? It is snap judgments like yours that makes me shake my head in disbelief when reading the comments on this awesome site.

SacTownSue (author)tmaragakis2011-06-05

In Cal booster seats are used for kids... I don't have kids but something like 60 lbs. 4ft tall. Not sure of specifics but I've known high schoolers small enough to fit the requirements. And a few adults. It's based on where the seat belt hits and whether you are small enough to slip out of it or be injured by the belt.

tiraha (author)2011-06-05

weird question, but where are those burgers from?

Mrballeng (author)tiraha2011-06-05


SacTownSue (author)tiraha2011-06-05

In-n-Out is in North Cal too! And I wish I had one now! Consumer Reports loves 'em too.

kmartin-1 (author)tiraha2011-06-05

IN-n-out burgers. They are out of s. California, but are expanding out into the SW states.

They are awesome.

NightElectric (author)2011-06-05

I drive a 1999 VW Beetle with itty bitty cup holders that can only fit aluminum cans. This would work perfectly. Thanks so much!

projectbronco (author)2011-06-05

I love how the paint tray is even a similar color to the In 'n' Out trays. Very well done! Now I feel like I need to go get a burger...animal style of course. lol

chabias (author)2011-06-05

Good instructable for eating on the go. For those of us who go through a drive-thru, then eat in the car...a small cookie sheet comes in handy as a table. I keep 2 of them in the stretchy pouch on the back of the front seats.

hlagas (author)2011-06-05

I am absolutely making this. But I am going to add some "Grip-it" shelf and drawer liner. I use that stuff on everything from food trays, to the underside of cutting boards, to under my grandson's butt in the high chair. It even works on dashboards, altho it cannot overcome the effects of extreme inertia.

Spokehedz (author)2011-06-05

Great ideas, this is so going to be put to use someday.

R4Z4K (author)2011-06-05

It is very clever and rather cost-effective.

Howard Vaux (author)2011-06-05

Great instructable I will have to make one.
The burgers are form In&out California and Arizonan Burger Franchise and I miss my Double Double animal style with a side of animal fries :(

mslaynie (author)2011-06-01

Wow!! This could be adapted to so many other car tools as well! I'm thinking of a coloring station for kids with a place to stick their crayons/pencils/whatever, or several other things going through my head!

I have a feeling epoxy putty may change the way I view the world... I can't believe I've never used it! This tray is absolutely inspired... good job!

jessyratfink (author)2011-06-01

A very good idea! Now you just need to make fry nets!

tinker234 (author)2011-06-01

wow need one for my road trips

Appollo64 (author)2011-06-01

Great idea! This is so amazingly simple!

About This Instructable



Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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