Phrasal Verbs Related to Food

This article connects one of the things that Italians HATE the most (phrasal verbs) with one of the things that Italians LOVE the most (food).

Maybe by connecting the 2 things you will start to like phrasal verbs a little more? Although if we use that logic, then that means you might start to like food a little bit less! Anyway, here they are. First of all read the examples and try to understand the meaning, then read the information below – enjoy!

However, not ALL of these false friends are so well known. As an English teacher in Italy, I hear a lot of these mistakes EVERY DAY, so here is a list of words to help you to AVOID making the same mistakes!

1 Cut back on something
“I need cut back on nutella, I eat it every day”
“The doctor told me that I need to cut back on carbohydrates, so I can’t eat pasta anymore”
“When I arrived in Italy, I cut back on the amount of bread I was eating”
So what does it mean? It means to start eating LESS of something, usually/ because it is not good for you.

Can it be used in other contexts?

Yes! You can cut back on any bad habits, smoking if a common one. For example, if you smoked 50 cigarettes a day and you cut back on cigarettes, you probably now smoke about 20 (DISCLAIMER – this article is not promoting smoking, smoking is bad).

2 Go off
“You must eat the meat by Sunday, or it will go off”
“If you keep milk in the fridge for 2 weeks, it goes off”
“Throw the chicken away, it has gone off”

Probably the most common and most useful phrasal verb on the list! We use it to talk about food that has been left for a long time and it is no longer safe to eat. For example, if you buy some chicken and leave it in the fridge for a month, it’s probably best not to eat it as it will have gone off! Notice how this verb is NOT a separable phrasal verb!

3 Pig out on something
“When I am at work, I pig out on chocolate”
“When I got home last night, I pigged out on biscuits... I ate the whole packet!”
“I had a lot to drink last night, so I pigged out on sweets this morning”

Probably my favourite phrasal verb on the list. We use this to talk about eating A LOT of one particular type of food which is usually something that is NOT good for you. In the examples you can see this, as they speak about chocolate, biscuits and sweets. Notice how this verb always takes an object, you pig out ON something!

4 Eat out
“When I don’t want to cook, my girlfriend and I eat out. We usually like to eat at Indian restaurants.”
“I like to eat out once a week”
“I arrived home and had no food in the fridge, so I ate out”

This one is quite obvious; it simply means to eat at a restaurant / pub (anywhere that is not your house and where you have to pay... so eating at your friend’s house doesn’t count!). However, notice that the verb doesn’t take an object, it’s not necessary to say ‘eat out a restaurant’, as it’s simply a repetition. If you eat out, it already means you are eating at a restaurant!

As you probably know, the translation of ‘library’ is ‘biblioteca’.

5 Eat up
“Make sure you eat all your dinner up”
“Good boy, you ate up all your vegetables!”
“He was obviously very hungry as he ate everything up in about 10 seconds!”

Generally used with children (although sometimes with adults) and means when you eat absolutely everything on the plate. It’s generally used with children as it’s often a surprise that they manage to eat up everything on their plate... especially if there are vegetables on it! Notice how this verb IS a separable phrasal verb and also takes an object.

6 To cut something out / To cut out something

““I cut out meat from my diet”
“I completely cut carbohydrates out from my diet”
“If you want to live longer, you need to cut out sweets”

Quite similar to number 2 on the list but whilst ‘cut down on something’ means to REDUCE the amount of something you eat, ‘cut out something’ means to COMPLETELY DELETE it from your diet.

So, next time you EAT OUT remember to PIG OUT on something good, if the food is cold tell them to take it back and HEAT it UP. EAT everything on your plate UP (unless it has GONE OFF obviously)! I hope that you manage to CUT DOWN on the bad things in your diet and that you CUT OUT all the really bad things!