Food Idioms

This quiz about idioms related to food is part of our complete Upper Intermediate English course. There is a glossary of some of the expressions from the article here and the exercise for this activity is here.

Food related idioms

Food is a common theme in idioms, with many expressions using food-related words to convey a meaning beyond their literal definitions. Here are ten English idioms related to food, along with definitions and examples of how they can be used:

“Sour grapes”

This idiom is used to describe when someone speaks negatively about something they cannot have or did not get.

Example: “I’m not interested in going to that party anymore – it was probably going to be awful anyway.” “You just have sour grapes because you weren’t invited!”

“The whole enchilada”

We use this idiom to refer to a complete package or everything.

Example: “I’m not just asking for a raise – I want the whole enchilada, including a better office and holidays!”

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs”

This means that you can’t create something without destroying something. For example: “To make the company profitable we need to fire half of the staff but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.”

“A slice of the pie”

This expression means a share or portion of something. For example: “I’m tired of doing all the work and not enjoying any of the benefits, I want a slice of the pie!”

“Butter someone up”

We use this idiom to talk about flattering or complimenting someone in order to gain favour or support. For example: “I wanted some extra holiday days, so I told the boss that he looked like he’d lost some weight and looked ten years younger than he really is. I really buttered him up.”

“A piece of cake”

This expression means something that is very easy to do. For example: “I was worried about taking the driving test, but it was a piece of cake. I found it really easy!”

“Cook someone’s goose”

Means to ruin or spoil someone’s plans or chances. Example: “I can’t believe she spent all that money on a new dress for the party and then in the end they didn’t even invite her. That really cooked her goose.”

“Eat humble pie”

We use this to talk about admitting defeat or that you were wrong. For example: “I was sure that the way I remembered what she had said and I said that she was wrong, but when we listened to the audio recording I realised that I was wrong. I had to eat humble pie and apologise.”

“A spoonful of sugar”

This idiom means to make something unpleasant more bearable or easier to accept by adding something pleasant or enjoyable. Example: “I know going to the dentist is never fun, but try to think of it as a chance to catch up on your favourite TV show while you’re in the chair. A spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.”

“Cool as a cucumber”

This idiom means to remain calm and collected, even in stressful situations. Example: “I don’t know how he does it, but he always stays cool as a cucumber in the face of deadlines and emergencies. It’s like nothing fazes him.”


  • Flatter: to compliment or praise someone excessively in order to gain favour or support
  • Literal: based on the ordinary or usual meaning of a word or phrase
  • Nerve: courage or audacity
  • Ruin (verb) : to cause something to be destroyed or to fail


See if you can remember what these food idioms mean with this multiple-choice test.