Food is an important part of our lives, so it’s no surprise that a bunch of common phrases about food have baked their way into our everyday language. These types of idioms add flavor to our conversations, so let’s dig in to see what some of the most commonly used food phrases are. Don’t worry, this will be a piece of cake.
What Are Food Phrases?
Food phrases are idioms or figures of speech that include culinary references. These common phrases are used to spice up how we talk and they add depth to our language. At times, they can even be humorous, such as when we refer to something as a “piece of cake” or call a plan “half-baked.” Yes, food related idioms can be a real treat for those with a taste for puns.
An idiom, by the way, is a group of words that cannot be understood just by looking at the individual words. Understanding the figurative meaning of idioms usually comes from hearing their frequent usage within a particular language, such as English.
21 Common Food Phrases and Idioms
Some of the food phrases on this list have their own page that offers additional details on their meaning and origin. So keep that in mind as you go through it.
1. A piece of cake
An activity or task that is simple to do, requiring little effort.
- Example: Fixing the broken fence is a piece of cake for me, I just need to find the time to get it done.
- Similar: As easy as pie, walk in the park
2. An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Eating fruits, vegetables or other healthy foods can help improve one’s health and thus keep the doctor away.
- Example: I always try to eat healthy every day because, as they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
- Similar: Prevention is better than cure, you are what you eat
3. Bigger fish to fry
Having other pressing matters to deal with; having larger problems that require attention.
- Example: I can’t be bothered by these minor issues, I have bigger fish to fry with this upcoming deadline.
- Similar: More important things to do, more urgent affairs, other things to worry about
4. Cut the mustard
Meeting a required standard or expectation.
- Example: He thought he wasn’t qualified for the job, but it turns out he cut the mustard and they hired him.
- Similar: Measure up, meet expectations, perform up to par
5. Driving me nuts
Describes something or someone that is annoying, frustrating, or causing agitation.
- Example: Having to deal with my parents slow internet connection is driving me nuts.
- Similar: Driving me crazy, getting on my nerves, testing my patience
6. Easy as pie
This phrase means that something is very easy to do.
- Example: Finishing lunch was as easy as pie because it was so delicious.
- Similar: A piece of cake, a cinch
7. Eat my dust
A way of expressing superiority or confidence in outdoing another person.
- Example: As he found himself so far ahead of the competition, he looked back and shouted, “Eat my dust!”
- Similar: Leave someone in the dust, run circles around someone
8. Eat my hat
An expression that conveys disbelief at a certain outcome occurring. The person using this idiom is confident that things will turn out a particular way.
- Example: There is no way the Hawks lose this game, I’ll eat my hat if they do.
- Similar: Eat my words, I’ll be floored, I’ll be surprised
9. Finger lickin’ good
Food that tastes delicious. The implication is that the taste of the food is so good, the person licks their fingers to savor the remaining flavor.
- Example: This fudge you made is finger lickin’ good.
- Similar: Delectable, flavorful, yummy
10. How do you like them apples?
Expressing a feeling of satisfaction or triumph, especially because the outcome was unexpected or doubted by people.
- Example: After John was told he wouldn’t make the team, he scored the winning goal and yelled to those doubting him, “How do you like them apples?”
- Similar: In your face, take that
11. Icing on the cake
An extra or additional thing that was unnecessary, but it being there makes the situation even better.
- Example: Going on a trip was great, but getting to share the experience with my family was the icing on the cake.
- Similar: Bonus, cherry on top
12. If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen
If the pressure or difficulties of a situation are too much to handle, then it should be left to those who can deal with it.
- Example: Being a surgeon requires a steady hand, so if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
- Similar: If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out
13. In a pickle
A common phrase used to describe a precarious or troublesome situation; being in a tough spot.
- Example: I’m in a pickle because I’m late for work and I can’t find my keys.
- Similar: Between a rock and a hard place, in a jam, in hot water
14. Quit cold turkey
Stopping something immediately and completely, typically said in regards to an unhealthy habit.
- Example: After struggling to cut down on sugar, Ryan decided to quit cold turkey by eliminating all sweets from his diet.
- Similar: Cut off, go cold turkey, stop right then and there
15. Spill the beans
To reveal information that was meant to be kept a secret.
- Example: He spilled the beans about the gift he had hidden in the closest.
- Similar: Let the cat out of the bag
16. Stick a fork in it
A declaration that something is finished, done, or no longer functional.
- Example: I tried repairing the heater but it won’t turn on, so stick a fork in it, it’s finished.
- Similar: Call it a day, it’s a wrap, put it to bed
17. Take it with a grain of salt
Not to take something you have been told too seriously, as it may not be entirely accurate.
- Example: Since he often exaggerates, I tend to take what he says with a grain of salt.
- Similar: Take it with a grain of truth, take it with a pinch of salt
18. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
A phrase meaning that children will have similar traits or characteristics to their parents.
- Example: He is great at playing the piano, just like his father. It seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
- Similar: A chip off the old block, like father, like son
19. Two peas in a pod
An idiom meaning two people or things that are similar in appearance, behavior, or activities they enjoy.
- Example: Mike and his brother are like two peas in a pod because they are so much alike.
- Similar: Birds of a feather flock together, cut from the same cloth, two of a kind
20. What am I, chopped liver?
Feeling like your opinion is being overlooked, ignored, or undervalued more than it should be.
- Example: Everyone received a compliment by the boss except for me. What am I, chopped liver?
- Similar: Am I invisible? Do I not matter?
21. You can’t have your cake and eat it too
You cannot have two desirable things at the same time because they conflict with each other.
- Example: You want to be fit and also eat unhealthy foods, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
- Similar: You can’t have it both ways, you can’t have the best of both worlds
Everyday Expressions About Food
These food phrases and idioms lean more towards the drinking side of things when it comes to eating. From lemonade to your favorite tea, get ready to gulp down these refreshing expressions.
1. Baker’s dozen
The term “baker’s dozen” is used to refer to a quantity of 13 items, instead of the normal 12. For instance, if you went to a bakery and bought bagels, you might receive a “baker’s dozen” instead of being given the usual 12. Synonyms for this phrase include “baker’s score” and “thirteen to the dozen.” Keep in mind that this practice of giving one extra is not as common as it once was, so don’t go in expecting more.
- Example: He gave me a baker’s dozen worth of cupcakes, so make sure to save some for tomorrow.
- Similar: A dime a dozen, baker’s score, thirteen to the dozen
2. Bottoms up
A toast that is sometimes said before drinking, typically done during a celebration.
- Example: To celebrate the good news we received, we raised our glasses and said, “bottoms up” before downing our lemonade.
- Similar: Chug it down, down the hatch, drink up
3. Cream of the crop
Refers to the best of the best, the highest quality.
- Example: I’ve tested a lot of pillows, and the feathered pillow is the cream of the crop for me.
- Similar: Best in class, top of the heap, top-notch
4. Cry over spilled milk
Getting upset about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
- Example: While mistakes were made earlier, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. We should try moving forward.
- Similar: It is what it is, what’s done is done
5. Cup of joe
This is simply a nickname for coffee, which is a popular morning drink.
- Example: To start my day, I enjoy pouring myself a hot cup of joe.
- Similar: Brew, java, morning fuel, wake-up juice
6. Drink like a fish
Someone who drinks a lot of water or other beverages, to the point of excess.
- Example: I tend to drink like a fish after eating a salty snack.
- Similar: Drink like a horse
7. Lemonade stand
A small business temporarily set up outside, typically run by a child, that sells homemade lemonade.
- Example: During summer, she set up a lemonade stand in her neighborhood, selling a refreshing drink to anyone stopping by.
- Similar: Beverage stand, food cart
8. Milk it for all its worth
Getting as much value or benefit as possible from something; taking full advantage of a situation.
- Example: The author’s book sold well, so she decided to milk it for all its worth by writing sequels.
- Similar: Squeeze something dry, to make the most of something, to take advantage of a situation
9. Not my cup of tea
Something that is not to one’s liking or preference.
- Example: Pineapple on pizza is not my cup of tea, but I’m warming up to the idea.
- Similar: I’m not a fan, not my thing, not to my taste
10. Tea time
A designated time for drinking tea.
- Example: I always look forward to tea time, and I make sure to set aside a portion of the day for it.
- Similar: Afternoon tea, coffee break, dessert time
11. Wake up and smell the coffee
To become aware or start paying attention to what’s really going on, often utilized when someone is not understanding the reality of the situation.
- Example: We need to shake things up as our restaurant is currently in the red. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.
- Similar: Face the music, get clue, open your eyes, wake-up call