Eating phrasal verbs

If you ‘bolt down’ food, you eat it very quickly. This expression is informal.

  • He bolted down the food. He really enjoyed it.
  • I’m so busy that I’m going to bolt down some food and get straight back to work.

If you ‘wolf down’ food, you also eat it quickly but specifically because you are hungry. This is also informal.

  • Did you see the way she wolfed down that food? She must have been ravenous.
  • After the marathon, I wolfed down some fish and chips.

If you consume a lot of drink (usually alcohol) quickly, you ‘knock it back’. This is informal and is often used quite negatively.

  • He was knocking back the champagne at the reception.
  • We must watch Bill carefully in the bar with the clients. He can really knock it back.

If you eat an excessive amount of food, you ‘pig out’. This is informal.

  • I’m not hungry because I pigged out on chocolate this afternoon.
  • We really pigged out in the restaurant.

If you ‘plough through’ some food, you eat it all but with some difficulty because there is a lot of it. In American English, ‘plough’ can be written as ‘plow’.

  • He served a huge plate of spaghetti and it took me ages to plough my way through it.
  • They served us snake. I didn’t like it but I plowed my way through it to be polite.

If you ‘put away’ food or drink, it can mean you eat or drink a lot of it. (Obviously, it can also mean that you place the food or drink in a fridge or cupboard – the context of the sentence should make clear the meaning.)

  • Watch Peter. He’s been putting away a lot of beer and he sometimes turns aggressive when he’s drunk.
  • He has put away some sandwiches but is still hungry.

If you ‘pick at’ your food, you only eat a small amount of it, usually because you are not hungry, you are on a diet or because you are ill.

  • She only picked at her food, even though it was delicious.
  • We were so busy talking that we only picked at our food.

If you ‘cut down’ or ‘cut back’ on a particular food or drink, you consume less of it.

  • My doctor told me to cut back on the amount of salt in my diet.
  • I need to cut down the amount of fried food I eat.

If you ‘eat up’, you finish all your food.

  • I don’t like tripe but I ate it all up when it was served to us by our hosts.
  • Eat up. It’s time to go.

If you ‘drink up’, you finish all your drink.

  • We seem to have drunk up all the orange juice.
  • Drink up. It’s time to go.

If you ‘polish off’ some food, you finish it completely and quickly.

  • The guests polished off all the food in the first thirty minutes.
  • He has just polished off two whole pizzas and still says he is hungry.

If you ‘dish up’ some food, you put it onto plates or dishes, ready to be served.

  • I’ve heard she is going to dish up something really special.
  • Can you collect up the starter plates, while I dish up the main course?

‘Serve up’ is a another way of saying the same thing as ‘dish up’.

  • They served up a six course meal for their guests.
  • It’s no better than the food we serve up in our canteen and twenty times more expensive.

If you ‘lay on’ some food or drink, you provide it.

  • We’ve laid on a buffet lunch for our visitors.
  • They laid on a small drinks party for us.

If you make a meal very quickly and easily, you ‘whip it up’. This is informal.

  • Have a seat and I’ll whip us up something to eat.
  • I could whip up a salad, if you are hungry.

If you make food quickly and without much effort, you ‘knock it up’.

  • I knocked myself up a quick meal from what was left in my fridge.
  • Do you want me to knock up some lunch?

If you make food hot so that it can be eaten, you ‘heat it up’.

  • I’ve already prepared the food for the party. All we need to do is to heat up the pizzas.
  • I could heat up a can of soup if you are hungry.

If you ‘warm up ‘ cold food, you are making it hot again so that it can be eaten.

  • I’ll warm up that stew from last night.
  • The canteen makes a large quantity once a week and then just warms up the amount needed every day.

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