Sometimes the morning/night is just too cold for me to get my hands wet or some idiot has damaged the water-main forcing the suburb's water to be cut off until it's fixed.

I am wondering if there is a way for me to eat from a bowl without needing to clean it before or after?

  • Why do you need to clean it? Small amounts of old food will just dry out.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 18:13

6 Answers 6


To eat from a bowl without needing to clean it (regardless if it is dirty or not) simply get a plastic bag and use it as a lining to the bowl. After eating, simply take the bag out and throw it away.

You'd need to make sure the bag is big enough to line the entire inside of the bowl. If you don't you can cause the food, if a liquid, to spill over the bag and dirtying the bowl (if it isn't already dirty). Failing this you can just add less to the bowl but a bigger bag is the preferred choice. If you have a particular large bag, a couple of cups can be used to weigh down the ends.

This same method can be used with plates as well, however one should take care when using knives in these situations to avoid cutting the plastic up. This allows holes that juice/sauce seeps through but more dangerously you may accidentally eat the plastic. This method is better suited for bowls with food you do not need to cut.

  • 4
    Be aware that this is not very environmental friendly as it uses a lot of plastic bags... I would not recommend this on a regular basis!
    – holroy
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 5:54
  • A substitute for plastic bags would be cling wrap. This sticks to bowls or plates pretty well, so you won't have to worry about the plastic moving around.
    – Alex
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 7:14
  • Basically anything that will cover the bowl is ok. Cling wrap was indeed my first idea, but aluminium fold could also do the trick. I must admit I wouldn't use a plastic bag at all though, I wouldn't be sure it is cleaner than a dirty bowl...
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 8:46
  • You could do like those genius college students and line your bowl with plastic wrap (saran wrap), aluminum fowl, wax paper, parchment paper to name a few :) Hope it gets fixed soon captain! Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 13:16

The premises of this question is a bit on the far side, as I don't live in a country where the water-main doesn't drop out very often, and even though the temperature in the winter often drops into the freezing temperature the water is still not that cold.

However I would advise against using plastic bags for this purpose as suggested in another answer, unless they are recycled (which kind of goes against the general principle of the other answer).

My take on a solution assuming the water being cut off for shorter periods of time, would be to wipe clean the bowl with a paper towel, or possible use disposable plates during the repair period. If multiple persons in your household, you could have one plate each.

Depending on what you eat, and how dirty the plates get, you could wipe clean the plates quite a few times before it is unhealthy to eat from. If they get to dirty, then replace with a new clean plate every so often. This should help you get by until the water-main is fixed.


Silicone non stick camping plates and bowls that can be wiped clean with a paper towel are freely available and should serve in your situation, you only need to buy one for use at those times you have no water.


Eat nothing but dry cereal. The few crumbs left behind can just be wiped out. You could put the bowl in the refrigerator. The lower temperatures would inhibit bacteria growth. Or if it is a metal bowl, light a fire in it. Most organic compounds breakdown before you hit 900 deg F leaving just ash, which wipes out easily. (Do Not do this to teflon, it both destroys the teflon and can make you sick)


If you are in an area that has access to disposable bowls, particularly paper ones, it will be much easier on the environment than lining a bowl with plastic.

While it isn't exactly a hack to simply buy paper bowls, at my grocery store, a "party package" of 200 disposable paper bowls is a few dollars less than a similar number of plastic bags or aluminum foil. At my store, you could have one bowl per day for an entire year and be within a $10 budget. If stored in a dry place and such an occurrence happened only intermittently, one pack of them could last beyond a year.


If you have an extra bit of time, you can reserve some of your morning drink and add it to the bowl after eating. Just 2 tablespoons at most.

Swirl this around the bowl to coat the reaming food and then use your spoon to scrape down the sides. You can do this in one continuous motion by holding the spoon steading, and rotating the bowl against it, like you're 'lathing' the bowl. It's easier if you use a spatula.

This works well with milk if your breakfast was oatmeal.

The remainder can be wiped with a napkin, cloth, or left until washing all is convenient.

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