Food is an everyday part of our lives which is why it often comes up as a topic in the IELTS speaking test. To prepare for such questions you should practice words and phrases related to food. Below we’ve answered the questions for you with lots of great examples of IELTS food vocabulary.
We’ve included some common collocations, such as to eat a balanced diet, a slap up meal, and to eat like a horse and explained them in the lexicon at the base of the page. The more you can include in your ielts speaking exam (in a natural way, of course), the more fluent you will sound.
IELTS Speaking Vocabulary: Food
1. To be full up.
Meaning: To eat to the point that you can no longer eat anymore or that you ate so much, you do not feel hungry.
Example: Don’t order any more food, I have been full up already.
2. To grab a bite.
Meaning: To gobble something (when you’re in a rush).
Example: I was in a hurry this morning, so I grabbed a bite to eat and ran out for a meeting.
3. The main meal.
Meaning: The meal at which you eat the most food is called the main meal.
Example: Lunch is usually our main meal, except on Sundays.
4. Stoke up with something.
Meaning: To eat a lot of a particular food or to fill oneself with food to avoid feeling hungry or weak later.
Example: As she had an important meeting all day long, she stoked up with a lot of chicken soup and bread for breakfast.
5. To wine and dine.
Meaning: To entertain with food, eat sumptuously, or to treat someone with wine and dinner, it’s typically to impress him/her.
Example: They wined and dined in one of the most luxurious restaurants in Paris after marriage.
6. Shovel something into your mouth (= shovel down).
Meaning: To put large quantities of food into your mouth very quickly.
Example: He was sitting in front of the TV shovelling a pizza into his mouth
7. To be dying of hunger.
Meaning: An exaggerated way of saying you are hungry.
Example: Let’s find something to eat. I am dying of hunger because of studying extensively for four hours.
8. To be starving hungry.
Meaning: An exaggerated way of saying you are extremely hungry.
Example: I’m starving hungry now. Let’s grab something to eat.
9. To eat a balanced diet.
Meaning: To eat the correct types and amounts of food or to eat the kind of food which fulfils a person’s nutritional needs.
Example: To lose weight, we should try to eat a balanced diet with less sugar intake.
10. To eat like a horse.
Meaning: To eat a lot.
Example: Eating like a horse in a party may be considered to be extremely impolite.
11. To have a sweet tooth.
Meaning: To enjoy sugary food. To have a craving or strong fondness for sweet food.
Example: I’m terrified of gaining weight quickly and contracting diabetes because I have a sweet tooth.
12. Home-cooked food.
Meaning: Food cooked at home or food cooked using raw and fresh ingredients that are made personally.
Example: Although home-cooked food is usually not as delicious as the one served in restaurants, it is much more beneficial to your health.
13. To make your mouth water.
Meaning: To make you feel very hungry for something or the food that makes your mouth salivate.
Example: McDonald’s serves all kinds of burgers, from cheeseburgers to beef burgers. They make my mouth water every time I walk into the restaurant.
14. To foot the bill.
Meaning: To pay the bill for something typically when the amount is considered large or unreasonable.
Example: My friend asked me out for dinner, and he didn’t want me to foot the bill.
15. To spoil your appetite.
Meaning: To eat something that will stop you feeling hungry or makes you skip the next meal when it’s meal-time.
Example: Don’t snack too much. It will spoil your appetite.
Meaning: Take-out, food that is cooked and sold by a restaurant or store to be eaten elsewhere.
Example: They offer carry-out burgers in their restaurant.
17. Processed food.
Meaning: Commercially prepared food bought for convenience. The food is cooked, canned, frozen, or packed in nutritional composition to preserve differently.
Example: Processed food is very convenient for those who are busy all day long, but eating it frequently may be very harmful to our health.
18. To bolt something down.
Meaning: To gobble something that you hardly chew or taste it.
Example: My son bolted down his lunch and went out with his friends.
19. To follow a recipe.
Meaning: To cook a meal using instructions.
Example: I set up and run a popular blog that gives readers hundreds of quick lessons on how to follow recipes to make any dish great.
20. Drive through (drive-thru)
Meaning: Type of service provided by a business that allows customers to purchase products without leaving their cars.
Example: On the way, he went into a fast-food drive-through and ordered food.
21. A quick snack
Meaning: To eat a small amount of food between meals. A simple meal that is easy to cook and eat.
Example: I didn’t have time for lunch, so I just grabbed a quick snack.
Meaning: To have a meal at home rather than in a restaurant.
Example: Neither of us felt like going out tonight, so we ate in.
23. Binge eating
Meaning: Eating a lot of food in a short period, especially without being able to control yourself.
Example: He had a binge eating disorder.
24. A slap-up meal.
Meaning: A large meal or a lavish enjoyable meal.
Example: They went to a slap-up meal on their wedding anniversary.
25. To tuck into.
Meaning: To eat something with pleasure or to eat food heartily.
Example: She was tucking into a massive plate of pasta.
26. Go on a diet.
Meaning: Trying to lose weight by eating less food or specific foods and having a nutritional plan consisting of eating a smaller amount of food.
Example: She thought she should go on a diet.
27. dine in: dine at home.
Example: We’re dining in tonight.
28. dine out: dine at a restaurant.
Example: We’re dining out tonight.
29. fussy eater: someone who is very picky about the food and doesn’t eat everything.
Example: My husband is a fussy eater, and he’s never pleased with my cooking.
30. home-cooked food: food cooked at home, usually implies that food is healthy.
Example: Preparing home-cooked food is a good way to make a balanced meal.
31. in a walking distance of: close to.
Example: I usually dine at a restaurant that’s in a walking distance of my home.
32. Italian cuisine: traditional Italian food. You can also say French cuisine, Russian cuisine, Chinese cuisine, etc.
Example: I adore pasta, pizza and Italian cuisine in general.
33. more of a chore than a pleasure: something you do rather unwillingly.
Example: I think that cooking is more of a chore than a pleasure.
34. mouth–watering: delicious, appetizing.
35. my mouth is watering: that is to say you find something very appetizing. People use this expression when they see/smell food that looks very delicious.
Example: My mouth is watering every time I think about my grandmother’s apple pie.
36. nutritious products: products rich in calories.
Example: A nutricious breakfast is a great way to start the day, as it gives your body the nutrients and you get enough energy.
37. processed food: food that has been modified in an undesirable or unhealthy way to achieve its current state.
Example: Try to avoid processed foods like flavored nuts and cereal bars. It is much healthier to eat organic food.
38. quality justifies the bill: when a product is worth buying due its good quality, even if it’s expensive.
Example: I first thought those strawberries were too expensive, but when I tasted them I understood that their quality justified the bill.
39. quick snack: a light and quick meal, usually unhealthy.
Example: Eating quick snack instead of main meal can be harmful for stomach.
40. ready meal: a meal that you buy already cooked, which only requires reheating to be eaten.
Example: I had no desire to cook, so I bought a ready meal in a nearby supermarket.
41. restrain one’s hunger: to avoid eating when you really want to. Usually practiced during diets.
Example: John couldn’t restrain his hunger anymore and went to the nearest fast-food restaurant.
42. slap-up meal: a quick and fatty meal. To slap up means to cook something very quickly.
Example: I feel like making a slap-up meal tonight.
43. starving hungry: to be extremely hungry.
Example: I woke up starving hungry yesterday and ate the whole roast chicken.
44. take-away: a meal prepared in a café/restaurant and eaten at home.
Example: I’m going to ring the Japanese restaurant and order a takeaway.
45. the main meal: the most important meal of the day.
46. to be dying of hunger: an exaggerated way of saying you are really hungry.
Example: I haven’t eaten all day. I’m dying of hunger!
47. to be full-up: to eat to the point that you can’t eat anymore.
Example: Would you like more chips? – No, thank you, I’m already full-up!
48. to be ravenous (to have ravenous appetite): to be really hungry, starving, voracious.
Example: After working all day, I had a ravenous appetite.
49. to be starving hungry: an exaggerated way of saying you are very hungry.
50. to bolt something down: to eat a large amount of food very quickly.
Example: Don’t bolt your food down like that, it’s very rude!
51. to catch a snack: to eat a little portion of food very quickly.
52. to eat a balanced diet: to eat correctly and in time.
53. to eat like a horse: to always eat a lot.
Example: She’s so thin, yet she eats like a horse.
54. to follow a recipe: to cook a meal using instructions.
Example: Although she had never cooked a jugged hare before, she followed a recipe and made a fantastic meal.
55. to foot the bill: to pay the bill.
Example: You paid for dinner last time. Let me foot the bill for lunch today.
56. to grab a bite to eat: to eat something quickly.
Example: I won’t eat the whole cake, just let me grab a bite to eat.
57. to have a sweet tooth: to enjoy eating sweet food.
Example: Dave eats candy all the time. He must have a sweet tooth.
58. to overeat oneself: eat too much, eat immodestly.
Example: If you overeat, you’re bound to get fat.
59. to play with your food: to push food around the plate without eating it.
60. to spoil your appetite: to do something that would hinder your desire to eat.
Example: Stop talking about the snails, you’re spoiling my appetite!
61. to tuck into: to eat something greadily and with pleasure.
Example: After not eating the whole day, he tucked into the ham like a savage.
62. to wine and dine: to banquet, to “entertain with good food”. If you wine and dine someone, you usually take him out to dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Example: The company wined and dined us, hoping to convince us we should accept the job.
63. to work up an appetite: to do something that will lead to hunger.
Example: He must have worked up an appetite in the gym.
IELTS Speaking Sample: Food
IELTS Speaking Part 1
Examiner: What food do you like to eat?
Answer: I am not a fussy eater. As long as you don’t feed me rabbit food I’m easy to please. I love Chinese cuisine and traditional Italian food and I can eat like a horse! My flatmate and I share the cooking chores. Once a week we make a slap-up meal of steak and chips covered in a rich sauce and to satisfy the sweet tooth we finish off with a decadent chocolate pudding.
Examiner: So, do you enjoy cooking?
Answer: I prefer eating to cooking. I make good use of ready meals and I am not averse to junk food or the occasional pub lunch. I realize though that it is necessary to include nutritious food as part of a balanced diet, especially organic food when it’s available rather than processed food, which is why I cook several times a week and always try to eat dinner at a reasonable time.
Examiner: What’s your favourite meal of the day?
Answer: I’m a breakfast fan. It’s the most important meal of the day, after all! I wake up starving hungry after a good night’s sleep. I like nothing better than a good English breakfast of bacon, eggs, and buttery toast, along with a piping hot cup of coffee.
IELTS Speaking Part 2
Examiner: Tell me about your favorite restaurant
In this question, you should discuss
- the restaurant that you like best,
- why you like it,
- and the occasions when you go there.
I enjoy fine dining and exotic food. Both are available at my favorite restaurant in the centre of town. On special occasions I take my partner wining and dining. We love the ambience of the candle-lit dinners, and the extensive menu of mouth-watering meals.
The menu includes starters, mains and deserts. Usually by the time we get there I am dying of hunger so we order a starter to calm the hunger pangs. We usually also share a bottle of bubbly. It is after all a celebration. Having finished our starter we take our time, savouring the food.
This is not the type of restaurant where you would ask for a doggy bag, so we waste nothing. We end the evening with a delicious dessert. I do have a sweet tooth, and all the food cooked there is incredible. After finishing the flan and settling the bill, we head off home, satisfied that we have enjoyed a scrumptious meal.
IELTS Speaking Part 3
Examiner: Do you believe that the 21st Century diet is a healthy one?
Answer: Far too many people are overweight and need to eat a balanced diet with proper meals instead of a quick snack multiple times a day. I believe that people should cut down on the sugars and refined carbohydrates in processed food and replace them with leafy vegetables and seasonal fruits. A balanced diet with more food cooked at home would help them to regulate their weight. If we avoid eating processed food and eat organic food wherever possible, everyone’s health can improve.
Examiner: Starvation is a problem in many parts of the world. What do you think should be done about it?
Answer: From what I’ve read current global food production can cover the daily consumption needs of the world. We need to find a way to economically transport it to where it is most needed or find alternate food sources. Nobody should starve when there is no shortage of food. It must be possible for everyone to eat a balanced diet – nobody should be dying of hunger in the 21st Century.
Examiner: In homes where both parents work do you think cooking has become just another job at the end of the day?
Answer: I know that food preparation can be time-consuming and more challenging if a child is a fussy eater, but if everyone helps with ideas and recipes and everyone takes a turn and lends a hand, cooking can be fun for the family. Even little children can help prepare a quick snack of fruit or healthy veggies with a dip. Home cooked meals rather than commercially prepared food bought from supermarkets are also often healthier and packed with vitamins. Hopefully, the children will grow up able to prepare a light and quick meal for themselves most evenings rather than just heading for the nearest fast food restaurant.
A balanced diet – A diet of mostly healthy food that has the right amount of nutrients
A bottle of bubbly – Sparkling wine
A decadent chocolate pudding – Luxurious or self-indulgent chocolate pudding
A doggy bag – The leftovers of a meal in a restaurant taken home
A scrumptious meal – A delicious meal
A slap up meal – an expensive or very indulgent ‘treat’ meal
A sweet tooth – An enjoyment of sweet food
An English breakfast – A large cooked breakfast that includes egg and bacon
Calm the hunger pangs – To reduce the discomfort caused by hunger
Candle lit dinner – A romantic dinner by candlelight
Covered in a rich sauce – Covered in a creamy gravy
Cut down on – To reduce consumption
Daily consumption – The amount that you eat everyday
Dying of hunger – Very hungry
Exotic meals – Meals that originate in other countries
Fine dining – Food catering to expensive tastes in a formal setting
Food preparation – Preparing food
Food production – Producing food
Fussy eater – Someone dislikes many foods
Home cooked meals – Meals cooked at home
Homemade food – Food made at home
Junk food – Food with little nutritional value
Leafy vegetables – Vegetables such as spinach and cabbage
Mouth-watering meals – Delicious meals
Nutritious food – Food with many nutrients
Quick snack – a small meal that’s easy to eat ‘on the go’.
Packed with vitamins – Full of vitamins
Piping hot cup of coffee – Very hot coffee
Pub lunch – Lunch served in a bar
Rabbit food – Salad vegetables
Ready meals – Heat and eat meals
Refined carbohydrates – Foods such as white rice, white bread
Savouring the food – Enjoying the food
Scrumptious meal – An exceptionally tasty meal
Seasonal fruits – Fruits that grow in season
Starving hungry – Extremely hungry
Wining and dining – Entertainment that includes good food
IELTS Speaking Practice: Food
Read the following IELTS-style questions and answers below and pay attention to the phrases in bold. Use the ‘Definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check the meaning of any phrases you don’t understand.
Part 1-style questions
Examiner: Do you like to cook?
Mandy: Not really no … most of the time I eat ready meals and take-aways … that’s one of the reasons I love visiting my mum … you can always guarantee lovely home-cooked food …
Examiner: What time do you usually eat dinner?
Michelle: We have our main meal at around 7.00 … I’m usually starving hungry by then … in fact I often grab a bite to eat as soon as I get home from college … a sandwich perhaps … but not too much to spoil my appetite …
Examiner: Are there any types of food you don’t like?
Lionel: No not really … I’m not a fussy eater at all … actually I eat like a horse … I do a lot of sport and work up quite an appetite …
Part 2-style task
Describe a restaurant that you like to use. You should say
- where this restaurant is
- what kind of food does it serve
- how often do you go there
and say why you like eating there so much.
Howard: OK … this is a nice topic to talk about … there’s a restaurant just around the corner from where I live … it’s an Italian restaurant so as you’d expect you can eat various pasta dishes and pizzas and I usually go there with my family for a slap-up meal if we have anything to celebrate … it’s quite a posh restaurant … the kind of place you would take someone if you wanted to wine and dine them … we usually order a 3-course meal … a light starter then a main dish … and I have quite a sweet tooth so I always look forward to the dessert … I usually order Tiramisu … it makes my mouth water just to think about it … I’m always totally full up by the end … why do I enjoy it there … well … it’s not cheap … my parents always foot the bill and we couldn’t afford to go there regularly so it’s always a nice treat …
Part 3-style questions
Examiner: How can we encourage people to eat more healthily?
Anna: I think the best approach is to have everything in moderation … processed food won’t kill you if you only eat it occasionally … but people should also be encouraged to eat a balanced diet… try to cook fresh ingredients at home a few times a week …
Examiner: Do you think people enjoy their food as much as they should?
Florrie: I don’t know really … I suppose it’s true that people will often eat a quick snack because they’re bored not because they’re dying of hunger … and often they just bolt it down and don’t savour it … so yes … perhaps we could take more time over our food …
Examiner: Do you think cooking is a pleasure or a chore for people who have busy lives?
Julie: Well … whether you follow a recipe or make something up as you go along…I think cooking is a very creative process … and cooking for other people is a particular pleasure … there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing people you love tucking into something you’ve cooked yourself …
to be full up: to eat to the point that you can no longer eat anymore
to be starving hungry: an exaggerated way of saying you are very hungry
to bolt something down: to eat something very quickly
to be dying of hunger: an exaggerated way of saying you are hungry
to eat a balanced diet: to eat the correct types and amounts of food
to eat like a horse: to eat a lot
to follow a recipe: to cook a meal using instructions
to foot the bill: to pay the bill
a fussy eater: somebody who has their own very high standards about what to eat
to grab a bite to eat: to eat something quickly (when you’re in a rush)
to have a sweet tooth: to enjoy sugary food
home-cooked food: food cooked at home from individual ingredients
the main meal: the most important meal of the day, usually eaten in the evening
to make your mouth water: to make you feel very hungry for something
to play with your food: push food around the plate to avoid eating it
processed food: commercially prepared food bought for convenience
a quick snack: to eat a small amount of food between meals
a ready meal: see ‘processed food’
a slap-up meal: a large meal
to spoil your appetite: to eat something that will stop you from feeling hungry when it’s mealtime.
a takeaway: a cooked meal prepared in a restaurant and eaten at home
to tuck into: to eat something with pleasure
to wine and dine: to entertain someone by treating them to food and drink
to work up an appetite: to do physical work that leads to you becoming hungry