Food Vocabulary – Main Food Groups

Exploring food groups is a convenient way to help us learn food-related vocabulary in a more organized way.

Dairy Products

First let’s look at some laticíniosdairy products

  • o leite milk
  • o iogurte yogurt
  • o queijo cheese
  • a manteiga butter
  • o gelado ice cream
  • a natacream

Leite, iogurte, and queijo are a part of many Portuguese people’s breakfasts and snacks. Queijo, in particular, is very important and there are several tasty varieties. As for leite, there are 3 main types:

  • Leite magro Skimmed milk – Very low fat content
  • Leite meio-gordo Semi-skimmed milk – Medium fat content
  • Leite gordo Whole milk – High fat content

Fruits and Vegetables

Next we’ll explore frutosfruits and legumes vegetables
Frutos is the proper, scientific term for plant structures that carry seeds, but you will probably hear frutafruit or frutasfruits more often in daily life. (Fruta is a collective noun, so either word can be used to refer to fruit as a category.) Frutos would, scientifically, include tomatoes, even though we often consider them to be vegetables. In Portugal, fruits can be added to salads or treated as sobremesas desserts or snacks.
Comeste fruta hoje? Did you eat fruit today?
Os legumes Vegetables are included in most meals, as part of saladas salads or sopas soups. They include vegetables, cooked or raw, and also leafy greens, like as alfaces lettuces and as couves cabbages. You’re probably asking yourself why don’t we use the word vegetais for vegetablesand that’s because we reserve that word for when we are talking about plants. 
Let’s see some examples of fruits and vegetables:

  • o morango strawberry
  • a laranja orange
  • o ananáspineapple
  • a bananabanana
  • a maçã apple
  • o tomatetomato
  • a alfacelettuce
  • a cenoura carrot
  • o pepino cucumber
  • a cebola onion


We use as leguminosas beans, legumes to refer to all kinds of beans. (I guess because the word legumes was already taken for vegetables…) Beans are present in a wide variety of Portuguese dishes. Here are a few common ones:

  • o grão de bicochickpea grãos de bicochickpeas
  • o feijão bean feijõesbeans
  • a ervilhapea ervilhaspeas
  • o amendoimpeanut amendoinspeanuts
  • a lentilhalentil lentilhaslentils
  • a sojasoy


When it comes to a carne meat, you can have:

  • As carnes vermelhas Red meats which include a carne de porco pork and a carne de vaca beef
  • A carne branca White meat which includes a carne de aves