Food Idioms & Phrasal Verbs

Food Idioms & Phrasal Verbs

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
Charles M. Schulz, an American cartoonist and creator of the comic strip “Peanuts”


Jane: When I’m not eating, I seem to be either cooking or buying food, so my life revolves around food.

Ben: I don’t get these people who live for food. I usually just heat up something from a can, or pick up a takeaway.

Ashley: I regularly go on a diet, so I really have to think about what I’m eating. I’ve already given up chocolate, and at the moment I’m trying to cut down on my carbohydrate intake. Most of the time, though, I’m starving. (Related: “Hungry & Full English“)

Tom: Food is important if you eat the right things. I’ve cut out junk food altogether, and I’m now really careful about eating too much dairy as well. But having said that, I couldn’t go without my chocolate!

Tim: I eat and eat, but I’m still thin as a rake. I guess I just burn off the calories with all the exercise I get. (Related: “Similes“)

Rhonda: For me food is a social thing. When I want to see friends, I ask them over for a meal, or we eat out somewhere. (Related: “Food, Meal, Dish or Cuisine?“)

  • to revolve around sth./sb. – to have sth. or sb. as the main or most important interest or subject: Her life revolves around her restaurant.
  • to live for sth. – to enjoy sth. more than anything else that you do: He lives for sports.
  • to heat/warm up– to make sth. warm or hot: Let’s heat up the meat. (≠ to cool (down): I need to cool the meat.)
  • takeaway (British English), takeout/carryout (American English) – a meal that you buy in a restaurant or shop to eat at home: We were too tired to cook so we ordered a takeaway.
  • to pick sth. up – to buy sth., especially cheaply or by chance: She picked up some real bargains in the sale.
  • to be/go on a diet – to try to get thinner by eating a limited range of food: I think I need to go on a diet – I’m actually having trouble going up and down the stairs without losing my breath!
  • to give sth. up -to stop doing/having sth.: I’ve made the decision to give up red meat.
  • to cut down on sth.  -to reduce the size, about or number of sth.: Cut down on sugary beverages.
  • to cut out sth. – to stop eating/doing sth., especially because it is bad for your health: I’ve cut out chocolate completely.
  • carbohydrate /ˌkɑː(r)bəʊˈhaɪdreɪt/ – a substance such as sugar or starch that provides the body with energy: Food is made up of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates or crabs are also foods that contain a lot of carbohydrate: Eat a wide variety of carbs, fruit, and vegetables.
  • having said that – used to introduce an opinion that makes what you have just said seem less strong: It’s expensive. Having said that, I must admit that it is very well made.
  • to go without sth. – to live without sth. that you need or would like to have: He went without sleeping for two days.
  • to be (as) thin as a rake – to be very thin: He eats like a horse and yet he’s as thin as a rake. (More vocabulary for describing people is here.)
  • to burn sth. off/up – to reduce calories, weight, etc. by using energy trough exercise: Swimming can help you burn off those unwanted calories.
  • to ask sb. over – to invite sb. to come to your house, usually for a drink or a meal: Mom, can I ask some friends over?
  • to eat out – to eat in a restaurant: Let’s eat out tonight. (≠ to eat in: I love eating in, but tonight I didn’t have time to cook, so let’s order in (order food online or over the phone to be delivered to our home).)
You are what you eat…


  1. One look at those cakes makes my mouth water! If sth. makes your mouth water, it makes you want to eat it. Such food is mouth-watering: The cakes are mouth-watering!
  2. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. If sb. has a sweet tooth, they like sweets very much.
  3. This trophy is the icing on the cake for Julie who has had a great year as a tennis player. The icing on the cake refers so sth. that makes a good situation even better.
  4. You can’t have your cake and eat it. This expression means that two good things are impossible to do or have at the same time: He wants to have his cake and eat it: he wants a well-paid secure job, but he doesn’t want to have to work evenings or weekends.
  5. The way they conducted the interview left a bad/sour taste in my mouth. This means that the person has an unpleasant memory of the interview.
  6. Your speech offers much food for thought. If you give someone food for thought, you make them think carefully about something.
  7. It’s not like you to be off your food. If you are off your food, you do not want to eat, usually because you are ill.
  8. Taxi-driving is his bread and butter, though he also writes music. Your bread and butter is the activity/job you do to get the money your need.
  9. Our work is bearing fruit. If your work bears fruit, it produces a positive result.
  10. You’ll have egg on your face if your plan doesn’t work. If you have egg on your face, you feel stupid or embarrassed because of something you did.

What other foods idioms do you know and use? 😉

Books used for writing the article: “Oxford Learner’s Pocket Phrasal Verbs & Idioms” by R.Gairns and S.Redman, “English Idioms in Use Intermediate” by M.McCarthy and F.O’Dell

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