25 Food Idioms

food metaphors simile and idiom, explained below

The role of an idiom is to create a vivid visual through commonplace and expressive language.

When it comes to food, it unveils various perspectives, from enjoyment to necessity, difficulty, or even abundance, in a compact and picturesque manner.

An idiom is a frequently used figurative phrase that has a meaning separate from the literal interpretation of its constituent words. For instance, saying “as cool as a cucumber” to describe being calm and composed under pressure.

chrisAbout the Author: has a PhD in Education. He has been a teacher in schools and universities and has taught English as a Second Language in Colombia. He is former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

Idioms for Food

1. As cool as a cucumber

Meaning: This idiom paints a picture of being calm and composed, much like a well-kept cucumber staying cool and fresh.

When to use: Use this idiom when expressing a state of cool-headedness, especially during challenging situations.

In a sentence: “Despite the rising tension in the room, he stayed as cool as a cucumber, acknowledging each problem with a composed demeanor.”

2. Apple of my eye

Meaning: This idiom suggests valuing someone or something highly and caring deeply about them, just as we cherish a fresh and juicy apple.

When to use: Employ this idiom when expressing deep affection or cherishment towards someone or something.

In a sentence: “My daughter is the apple of my eye; her happiness is my utmost priority.”

3. Spill the beans

Meaning: Similar to “letting the cat out of the bag,” this idiom captures the act of revealing a secret, much like accidentally knocking over a bag of beans and spilling its contents.

When to use: Use this idiom when describing the disclosure of confidential information or secrets.

In a sentence: “I didn’t mean to, but I spilled the beans about their surprise party to Hank.”

Read Also: Similes for Food

4. Bite off more than you can chew

Meaning: This idiom equates the act of accepting or starting a task that is too large or difficult to one literally attempting to consume more food than they can handle.

When to use: Use this idiom while discussing situations where one has taken on a task beyond their capacity.

In a sentence: “He bit off more than he could chew when he promised to complete the project in one day.”

5. The cherry on the cake

Meaning: This idiom means something nice that happens on top of an already good situation or experience, making it even better just like a cherry topping makes a cake more appealing.

When to use: Apply this idiom when discussing an additional good event or aspect that improves an already positive circumstance.

In a sentence: “Winning the game was brilliant, but having my family there to witness it was the cherry on the cake.”

6. Bring home the bacon

Meaning: This idiom refers to earning money to support your family, much like bringing home bacon, a staple food item.

When to use: Use this idiom when talking about someone who is the primary earner for their family.

In a sentence: “Ever since she got promoted, she’s been bringing home the bacon and making sure her family’s needs are met.”

Read Also: Metaphors for Food

7. As easy as pie

Meaning: This idiom equates the simplicity of a task to making or eating a pie, suggesting that it’s very easy.

When to use: Use this idiom to describe tasks or activities that are simple to execute or understand.

In a sentence: “She found the test as easy as pie and completed it within half the time.”

8. Bite the bullet

Meaning: This idiom refers to facing a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and fortitude, much like biting into a challenging food.

When to use: Employ this idiom when talking about confronting hard situations with bravery.

In a sentence: “Knowing the procedure would be painful, he decided to bite the bullet and move forward with it.”

9. The meat and potatoes

Meaning: This idiom represents the most important or fundamental aspects of something, just as meat and potatoes are the staple parts of a meal.

When to use: Use this idiom when discussing the essential elements or aspects of a project, event, or topic.

In a sentence: “Before we get lost in details, let’s first discuss the meat and potatoes of this project.”

10. Sour grapes

Meaning: This idiom refers to individuals pretending to disdain something they cannot have, much like how one might claim they don’t want “sour” grapes.

When to use: Use this idiom to describe someone’s false pretense of calm indifference towards something they can’t possess.

In a sentence: “Their criticism is just sour grapes because they didn’t get the job.”

11. Have your cake and eat it too

Meaning: This idiom refers to wanting more than one can handle or desiring to have it both ways, like preserving a cake but also wishing to consume it.

When to use: Use this idiom when someone wants multiple incompatible things at once.

In a sentence: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too – if you want more local services, you’ll have to be willing to pay the taxes for them.”

12. Go bananas

Meaning: This idiom suggests behaving in a mildly insane or wildly excited manner, just as monkeys get excited over bananas.

When to use: Employ this idiom when illustrating wild excitement or nonsensical behavior.

In a sentence: “The crowd went bananas when the band came on stage.”

13. A piece of cake

Meaning: This idiom depicts a task or situation that is easy to accomplish, much like eating a piece of cake.

When to use: Use this idiom to discuss tasks that are straightforward and simple to perform.

In a sentence: “For a seasoned mountain climber, this hike is a piece of cake.”

14. Butter someone up

Meaning: This idiom refers to flattering or praising someone excessively, much like spreading butter generously over a slice of bread.

When to use: Use this idiom when someone is trying to win favor through excessive praise or flattery.

In a sentence: “He’s always buttering up the boss to get the best assignments.”

15. Cream of the crop

Meaning: This idiom denotes the best of a particular group or category, like the rich cream that rises to the top of a pot of milk.

When to use: Use this idiom when referring to the highest quality or top choice among a selection.

In a sentence: “These students are the cream of the crop. They consistently receive the highest scores.”

16. Egg on your face

Meaning: This idiom signifies embarrassment due to a failed attempt or mishap, akin to having egg splattered on one’s face.

When to use: Use this idiom when describing instances of embarrassment arising from blunders or unsuccessful endeavors.

In a sentence: “He left the meeting with egg on his face after his proposal was rejected.”

17. A bun in the oven

Meaning: This idiom usually refers to someone who is pregnant, just as a bun being baked in an oven takes time to be ready.

When to use: Use this idiom to casually refer to a woman being pregnant.

In a sentence: “Did you hear the news? Susan has a bun in the oven.”

18. Bread and butter

Meaning: The idiom refers to a person’s main source of income or livelihood, just as bread and butter are basic sustenance.

When to use: Use this idiom when discussing one’s principal earnings or day-to-day work.

In a sentence: “As a teacher, grading papers is his bread and butter.”

19. Smart cookie

Meaning: This idiom depicts a person who is clever or quick-thinking, likening their intelligence to a desired or prized cookie.

When to use: Use this idiom to compliment someone on their wit, intelligence, or cleverness.

In a sentence: “She’s a smart cookie, able to solve complex mathematical problems in seconds.”

20. Hard nut to crack

Meaning: This idiom refers to a problem that’s difficult to solve or a person who’s hard to understand, much like the difficulty of cracking a hard nut.

When to use: Use this idiom to describe challenging problems or situations, or to denote people who are difficult to understand or deal with.

In a sentence: “This case is a hard nut to crack; we have very little evidence to go on.”

21. Cook up a storm

Meaning: This idiom refers to spending a lot of time and effort preparing and cooking a lot of food, often for a special occasion or large gathering.

When to use: Use this idiom when someone is making a lot of food, especially in a hectic but organized manner.

In a sentence: “She always cooks up a storm for family gatherings; no one leaves her house hungry.”

22. Full of beans

Meaning: This idiom signifies being lively, energetic, and in high spirits, as if one had ingested invigorating beans.

When to use: Use this idiom when describing people, especially children, who are brimming with energy and enthusiasm.

In a sentence: “The kids were full of beans after the birthday party and took forever to calm down for bed.”

23. Gravy train

Meaning: This idiom symbolizes an easy way of making a lot of money over a long period of time, much like enjoying a rich and endless supply of gravy.

When to use: Use this idiom when referring to a lucrative project or business that generates a substantial and constant income with little effort.

In a sentence: “Creating and selling his innovative app put him on the gravy train.”

24. Out of the frying pan into the fire

Meaning: This idiom compares moving from a bad or difficult situation to one that is worse, to jumping out of a frying pan and into a fire.

When to use: Use this idiom when describing a scenario where escaping from one problem results in encountering a bigger one.

In a sentence: “She left her boring job only to end up in one that was even more stressful. Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire.”

25. Hot potato

Meaning: This idiom refers to a controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with, much as a literal hot potato is difficult to handle.

When to use: Use this idiom to describe an issue or topic people avoid because it is problematic or controversial.

In a sentence: “The politicians avoided discussing the tax increase because they knew it was a hot potato.”

Comprehension Worksheet for Students

Question 1: What does the idiom “As cool as a cucumber” suggest about someone’s personality?

A) They are quite warm and welcoming.
B) They remain calm and collected in stressful circumstances.
C) They are cold and distant.
D) They have a green thumb for gardening.

Question 2: What does the idiom “Apple of my eye” imply?

A) An affinity for apples.
B) A deep affection or care for someone or something.
C) Impartiality towards someone or something.
D) A liking for the color red.

Question 3: Which idiom indicates revealing a secret or confidential information?

A) The cherry on the cake
B) Spill the beans
C) As cool as a cucumber
D) Take with a grain of salt

Question 4: Which idiom refers to undertaking a task or responsibility that is beyond one’s ability or capacity?

A) Full of beans
B) Bite off more than you can chew
C) Bread and butter
D) Pie in the sky

Question 5: How does the idiom “The cherry on the cake” describe a situation of additional joy or advantage?

A) It suggests a situation of disadvantage or loss.
B) It illustrates a situation where an already pleasant situation is made even better.
C) It indicates a conflict or problem.
D) It implies a situation remained the same.

Question 6: What does the idiom “Bread and butter” depict about one’s source of income?

A) It represents a luxurious and opulent lifestyle.
B) It refers to a dependable and regular source of income.
C) It suggests an unstable or insecure financial situation.
D) It indicates a rarity of earnings.

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