Most languages have idiomatic expressions about food, and English is no exception. There are lots of idioms which feature food in some way. Some of these are quite easily understood, while others are more difficult. Here’s a list of some common food idioms:
be the apple of someone’s eye = be someone’s favorite person: “She’s the apple of her father’s eye.”
in apple-pie order = in perfect order: “Her house was in apple-pie order, with nothing out of place.”
be as nice as pie = be extremely nice and charming, so that you can fool people: “She can be as nice as pie, but don’t trust her!”
eat humble pie = have to take back what you said, because you have been proved wrong: “He’ll have to eat humble pie now. Serve him right – he tried to make us all look bad.”
have your fingers in every pie = be involved in many different things: “You can’t do anything without him knowing – he has his fingers in every pie.”
a piece of cake = be extremely simple: “This program is a piece of cake to use.”
sell like hot cakes = sell quickly in large quantities: “His book is selling like hot cakes.”
full of beans = be full of energy: “You’re full of beans today – it’s nice to see you so lively!”
beef about something = complain about something: “He’s always beefing about the pay.”
beef something up = give something extra appeal: “If we beef up the window display, more people might come into the shop.”
be your bread and butter = be your main source of income: “Although they run a taxi service, car sales are their bread and butter.”
be like chalk and cheese = be completely different: “I don’t know why they got married – they’re like chalk and cheese.”
be like peas in a pod = be identical to someone: “Those two are like peas in a pod.”
cheesy = predictable and unimaginative: “I don’t want to see that film again – it’s really cheesy.”
sour grapes = say something bad because you didn’t get what you wanted: “Don’t listen to him complain – it’s only sour grapes because you got the job and he didn’t.”
a couch-potato = someone who never goes out or exercises: “He watches TV all day – what a couch-potato!”
bring home the bacon = earn money for necessary things, like food: “He brings home the bacon in that family.”
the way the cookie crumbles = the way things are: “I’m sorry I didn’t get the promotion, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
have someone eat out of your hand = have control over someone: “He has her eating out of his hand – it’s sad.”
not your cup of tea = something that you don’t like much: “Football isn’t my cup of tea.”
it smells fishy = something that is suspicious: “He wants to do all the housework for you? That smells fishy to me!”
small fry / small beer = something or someone unimportant: “Sales last year are small fry compared to now – we’re doing really well.”
roll out the barrel = prepare to have a good time: “Roll out the barrel – we’re celebrating our exam results.”
Practice: Fill in the blanks with the correct option:
Meaning – She is very special to someone.
Meaning – He drinks a lot of alcohol.
Meaning – If something bad happens, there’s nothing you can do to change it. There’s no point in dwelling on it.
Meaning – You won’t do something no matter what.
Meaning – That person is bad and cannot be trusted.
Meaning – Two people are so similar they are identical.
Meaning – Something is excellent.
Meaning – Two people are completely different to each other and have nothing in common.
Meaning – She is expecting a baby.
Meaning – I earn the money in this household.
Meaning -The company has not been honest about their real income.
Meaning – He is a lazy slob and doesn’t do much.
Meaning – She defeated or overwhelmed him completely.
Meaning -It made us think about things carefully.
Meaning -The child is full of energy.
Meaning – He was embarrassed or humiliated.
Meaning – They have an interest in or are involved in more than one thing.
Meaning – Don’t believe everything he says.
Meaning – People take advantage of something and gain money/benefits from it without making an effort.
Meaning – Something is very easy.
Answers: A-apple, B-fish, C-milk, D-tea, E-egg, F-peas, G-sliced bread, H-cheese, I-bun, J-bacon, K-cooking, L-potato, M-alive, N-thought, O-beans, P-egg, Q-pie, R-salt, S-gravy train, T-cake.
After the students have memorized the idioms, read out the sentences below. They need to call out the best expression for each situation.