Food Idioms

This article & 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.

What are Idioms?

Idioms are expressions that can be difficult to understand. What an idiom means is often not apparent from the literal words used. Here are ten English idioms related to food, along with definitions and examples of how to use them. After the article there is an interactive exercise to see how many of these expressions you can remember.

Idioms Related to Food

Sour grapes

We use this idiom 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 they didn’t invite you!”

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 they didn’t invite her. That really cooked her goose.”

Eat humble pie

We use this expression to talk about admitting defeat or that you were wrong. For example: “I was sure that what she had said was wrong, but when we listened to the audio recording I realised that I was mistaken. 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 favorite TV show while you’re in the chair. A spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.”

Cool as a cucumber

This expression 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.”

“Bite off more than you can chew”

We use this idiom to describe taking on more tasks or responsibilities than you can handle. For example, “I bit off more than I could chew when I agreed to take on three extra projects at work.”


  • Flatter(v): to compliment or praise someone excessively in order to gain favour or support
  • Literal(adj): based on the ordinary or usual meaning of a word or phrase
  • Nerve(n): courage or audacity
  • Ruin(v): to destroy something.


How much do you remember? Test how well you understand these idioms related to food with this quick test. Can you remember what all of them mean?

Use the numbered buttons to navigate between questions. When you have answered all the questions click “finish” to see your results and then “view questions” to see the solutions.