The Best Foods (And Strategies) For Eating At Your Computer

We recently asked you what your favourite keyboard-friendly foods were, and you guys had a lot of great suggestions—both of good foods to eat and strategies to keeping your workspace clean. Here are some of our favourites.

Photo by Kevin Marsh.

Good Foods That Don’t Make A Mess

Many of you wrote in with some great food suggestions that won’t make a mess (or will be easy to clean up. Some of the best included:

  • Wraps and Burritos, if you’re skilled and don’t let any sauces or dressings spill out the end. Also, if you keep the foil or bag on the end, you’ll be less likely to spill. Sandwiches tend to be more prone to crumbs than wraps, though if you put the end of it in plastic wrap or something similar, you may be able to get by.
  • Meats like steak, chicken breast, or ham. These are great because, unless you put some sort of sauce on them, they don’t have much to drip on your keyboard, and they won’t get anything messy on your hands.
  • Fruits and vegetables tend to be pretty neat, and won’t get anything on your hands. I’d be wary of the juicier fruits like apples, which could drip juice on your keyboard and get quite sticky. Dried fruits and nuts are really good ideas too.
  • Salad, as long as it isn’t dripping with salad dressing. The great thing about salad is that, while it’s easy to drop pieces of your salad all over the place, those pieces are usually big pieces of lettuce, cucumber, or whatever that are easy to pick up off your keyboard without making a mess.
  • Foods that act as “glue”: A number of you noted that certain foods, like mashed potatoes and refried beans, are great not only for their lack of mess, but because they can act as a kind of “glue” that holds more difficult food like rice or peas easier to eat without getting all over the place.
  • Cereal, in a cup or a bottle: Cereal is likely to spill milk and small flakes all over the place, but many of you noted that eating cereal in a cup, or even in a recycled water bottle, takes away all the mess.
  • Non-sugary drinks in travel mugs: Sugary drinks, like juice and cola, are going to be very sticky if spilled. Alternatively, travel mugs are a great way to avoid nasty spills.

All in all, the best foods are ones you can eat with utensils (so you don’t get anything on your hands), foods that come in large pieces rather than small (so you can easily pick it off if you do spill), and solid, dry foods that aren’t crumbly. If you have some food that you can’t eat with traditional utensils, chopsticks work really well as a replacement.


Many of you also had great suggestions of ways to get around the food problem by protecting and cleaning your keyboard, rather than avoiding certain foods.

What I personally do at home is use my sliding keyboard tray to my advantage. My keyboard slides out from under the top of my desk, so when I’m eating, I just slide it away and go to town. My particular tray leaves a lot of room between the keyboard and the desk, so I can even slip my hands in and type at the same time if I want to—it isn’t the most comfortable or ergonomic, but it works just fine while I’m eating lunch.

Many of you recomended those rubber keyboard covers, which you can put on your keyboard just when you’re eating to protect it from spills. Mrjeremiahross gives us an even easier, DIY solution:

I saw a lady at Starbucks who covered her laptop keyboard with saran wrap so that nothing could fall between the keys…genius.

Note that this option isn’t ideal for laptops, since it may cause your computer to overheat. It’s a great solution for desktop keyboards, though.

Duckyreads takes a simpler approach to the whole problem, choosing just to eat away from the keyboard:

So maybe this is stupid and way over-simplifying things, but if I’m at a desk with a laptop on it, I just back up and have the food over my lap, not over the keyboard/computer. That way, if the worst should happen (arrrgh, gravity!) the food/drink goes… well, down on my lap. It’s easier to wipe food off & launder clothes than pick crumbs out of a keyboard, or try to rescue a laptop that’s experiencing death-via-a-liquid-invader.

Many of you took an even more extreme approach, saying that it’s helpful to actually get up from your computer and take some time elsewhere to eat (and socialize with your coworkers). We agree wholeheartedly. Of course, we understand this isn’t possible for everone, and we all have at least one or two busy days a week where there’s no time to take a proper lunch break. For those days, these tips work great.

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