Food Idioms

Bread and other flour-based food products have inspired a large number of idioms. Here is a comprehensive list food idioms.

Bread and butter

Your bread and butter is your livelihood. It is your food or the source of your income.

• He works 12 hours a day to earn his bread and butter.
• Singing at pubs is her bread and butter.
• I can’t quit this job. It is my bread and butter.

Bread and water

This idiom is used to refer to the most minimal meal possible. Nowadays prisoners in most countries are served good food, but there was a time when they had to subsist on bare minimum of food and drink.

• He has been on bread and water for several years. (= He has been in prison for several years. OR He has been subsisting on minimal food for several years.)
• The food that we were served in hostel was worse than bread and water.

The best thing since sliced bread

When you describe something as the best thing since sliced bread, what you mean is that it is very good, revolutionary or indispensable. This expression involves some exaggeration.

• If you look at the way smartphones are marketed, you will arrive at the conclusion that they are the best thing since sliced bread.
• He is obsessed with her. He seems to think that she is the best / greatest thing since sliced bread.

Half a loaf is better than no bread

This idiom means that something is definitely better than nothing.

• I didn’t get everything that I wanted, but I decided to accept the offer. After all, half a loaf is better than no bread.


When something is described as half-baked, it is incomplete or not thoroughly planned.

• It was a half-baked scheme. Needless to say, it failed.

Sell like hotcakes

When something sells like hotcakes, it sells really well.

• His books are selling like hot cakes.

Separate the wheat from the chaff

To separate the wheat from the chaff is to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones.

• Quite a few anti-virus software programs are now available. Actually, it is not easy to separate the wheat from the chaff.
• Now that plenty of dirt-cheap laptops and tablet computers are available in the market, customers are finding it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As flat as a pancake

If something is as flat as a pancake, it is very flat.

• My nose is as flat as a pancake.

As warm as toast

When something is as warm as toast, it is very warm and comforting

• It was a very cold night but the blanket kept us as warm as toast.

To have your cake and eat it, too

This idiom is used to refer to an unrealistic expectation.

• Mary wants to be with her baby all the time, but she doesn’t want to quit her job. She doesn’t understand that she can’t have her cake and eat it, too.
• Stay away from those burgers and pizzas if you want to lose weight. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

As easy as apple pie

If something is as easy as apple pie, it is very easy to understood or solve.

• The riddle was as easy as apple pie. I solved it in a matter of seconds.

To have your finger in the pie

To have your finger in the pie is to be involved in something.

• As it is a prestigious project, everybody wants to have their finger in the pie.
• Susie wants to have her finger in the pie.

To have your finger in too many pies is to be involved in too many things. The problem is that when you are involved in too many things, you will not be able to do anything properly.

• John has his finger in too many pies.
• She always starts new projects but doesn’t finish anything because she has her finger in too many pies.

Icing on the cake

Something that makes something else even better; an additional benefit

• I was happy that I got a chance to participate in the contest. Winning the first prize was the icing on the cake.
• Weekends were always fun. The icing on the cake was getting an opportunity to go to the theatre.

Pie in the sky

A pie in the sky is an unrealistic dream.

• Her dreams of becoming a well-known singer were just pie in the sky.
• It didn’t take him long to realize that his hopes of finding a good job were pie in the sky.

A piece of cake

If something is a piece of cake, it is very easy.

• The test was a piece of cake.


To sugarcoat something is to make it superficially attractive or acceptable.

• His sugarcoated words didn’t offer me any consolation.

Something takes the cake

When something takes the cake, it is the most extreme example. This expression is mainly used to talk about bad things.

• There have always been rumours about her affairs, but this one takes the cake. (= This latest rumour is the worst of them all.)
• I have seen many criminals but you take the cake. (= You are the worst criminal I have seen.)

That’s the way the cookie crumbles

This idiom is used to mean that bad things can sometimes happen and there is nothing that you can do to prevent it. The idiom That’s the way the ball bounces also mean the same.

• I couldn’t believe that I had failed the test. I worked really hard and was quite confident of passing. Ah well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
• I was a better candidate that John. Still they chose him for the job, not me. Well, I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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