Food is a type of consumable item that can be eaten, either by a player character or by a hunter pet. There are several types of food, and hundreds of different foods. Food is mainly consumed to restore health, although it may also be used to restore mana or grant buffs. Food may be bought, created by cooks, fished by fishers or conjured by mages, and is frequently found as loot.
During the First, Second and Third Wars, getting enough food to feed their soldiers was a priority for the various participating commanders. Without an adequate supply of farms, new soldiers couldn't be deployed.
Use of food
The main use of food is for player characters to consume it, restoring health over a period of time. Some foods may also restore mana, and/or grant various temporary buffs if enough time is spent eating. Players frequently use food to restore health and/or mana between encounters, especially if their class is unable to self-heal. Food is also used before encounters (especially in end-game raiding) to gain useful buffs. Eating is generally unnecessary at lower levels, as low level players and their pets recover health and mana quickly without eating.
You eat food by 'using' it - right clicking on it. This will cause your character to sit down (you must be seated in order to eat or drink), consuming one charge of the stack of food items (most, but not all, food has one charge per food item) to grant the player an 'eating' buff with an appropriate duration. This buff will restore your health over a specified time period, during which you must remain seated and cannot engage in most other activities. Moving, standing up or using abilities will remove the buff, cancelling the consumption of the food.
You can eat and drink at the same time (drinks are similar to food, but restore mana rather than health). You can eat additional food while seated, but will only be in the process of eating the last food item eaten; the previous ones are lost, so it is best to wait for the eating timer to run out. However, attempting to eat food that has lesser amounts of heals than the food currently being consumed will result in a failure to eat the new food. This can be avoided by either right clicking on the Eating icon on the top of the screen (just as cancelling a buff) or simply moving (which automatically makes the player stops eating).
Some foods in addition to their restorative properties also provide various buffs for a short period of time (typically 5–15 minutes from pre-Burning Crusade foods, 30 min from Outland food, and 60 min from food from WotLK and beyond). The most common food buff you will encounter early in the game is a slight increase to stamina and spirit. Later, there are foods that buff other stats as well. Foods that buff key stats are generally in high demand. In order to receive the buff, you must remain seated during most of the food timer for that food item, until you see the buff appear. These are called 'Well Fed buffs'. They do not stack; you can have only one at a time. Buff foods are primarily cooked foods.
The restorative power of the food increases with item level. Across the vended samples, the food type does not matter; they all have the same restorative power at a given level. Player characters can eat food of a much lower level, but derive less benefit. The benefits are scaled to provide restorative effect comparable to the scale of the health of characters at that level. The presence of a buff does not correlate specifically to an increase in level, but higher level foods that have a buff will provide better buffs. The buffs are scaled to provide stat increases comparable to how bonuses on equipment scale.
Feeding your pet
Upon completing the pet taming quest sequence which becomes available at level 10 (taming three specific beast mobs, varies by racial trainer), hunters receive the ability to tame pets and receive a final quest in the sequence to see another hunter trainer. The final trainer grants a couple of pet related abilities, including the ability to feed your pet.
You feed your active pet by dragging the food item out of the bag slot toward the pet's mouth. Food restores the health of the pet (less important at lower levels). Feeding a pet requires much less time than eating.
Hunter pets generally need food of around their level. Down to a food item level 9 levels below the pet's level, the pet gets full satisfaction from the food. Food of an even lower item level provides diminishing pet satisfaction, about half lost (multiplicative) each 10 levels. If the food's item level is too low, 30 levels less than the pet's level, they will refuse to eat it. Unlike player characters, pets can consume food of a much higher level than they are, but they get no additional satisfaction out of it, the (rather costly) extra levels are wasted.
Types of food
There are six main types of food: bread, fish, fungi, meat, cheese, and fruit. It is not always clear which type of food a food item is. The food type is not explicitly stated in the item tooltip. The best indication is the item name and the graphic icon representing the item, then using common sense to figure out which food category a food item belongs to. If the item is vended, the type of vendor often explicitly states the food type, but this is not generally true for seasonal items. Beyond that, it boils down to trial and error.
For meat and fish, there is also a distinction between food that is ready to eat, which is a consumable, and food ingredients, using in cooking food, which are trade goods. Player characters can only eat consumable food, but hunter pets can often eat food ingredients.
Food ingredients are merely trade items with little description. Consumable food will have a description of the food benefits in the item tooltip, clearly indicating consumable food status, and will appear in the consumables, food and drink section when browsing the auction house. Food ingredients will appear in the trade goods, meat section when browsing the auction house. This includes eggs and fish ingredients.
Some ingredient fish is consumable as food by a player character even though it is an ingredient, not a consumable. It will have a consumable style tooltip, will typically have the name Raw Fish-name, and will have less restorative power than its cooked counterpart.
Some food consumable by a player character will not satisfy any pet. There appears to be an additional category of untyped food. Some food ingredients appear to no longer satisfy pets when cooked into a consumable food item (whose type is not as clear). You may experience this with soup and stew items. , a quest reward, appears to be an example. Various kinds of candy, frequently acquired during events, appear to work like this.
Some inventory items are 'food' and use food graphics for their icon, but are not food in the game. These will usually be quest items. Many of the beginning quests are a 'hunt for food' quest that use this type of object. (Similarly, many of the beginning quests are a 'hunt for hides' quest that use hides that are not leather trade goods items.) There are meat and fish maces in the game, and there are food vendor trash items as well, although, see 'Raw food types' below.
There are also non-food items, such as trophy fishes, which can be used as pet food, so the boundaries are not always distinct.
There are also items, such as the , that can be 'used' (presumably ingested) that are not food in any other way, acting more like a potion. These do not require the sitting and remain seated process and any buffs they confer are not 'well fed' buffs (and thus can be applied in addition to a well fed buff).
Raw food types
All food has a required level, and players below this level cannot consume it. A food's required level is generally correlated with the overall properties and benefit of the item; the 'power' of the item.
Each food item also has an item level. The vended food items are a basic framework for all other food items. For edible food items, there are eight basic increments of item level from 5 to 75 in steps of 10. These can be consumed by player characters ten levels lower that the item level or above (obviously, the minimum is character level 1). The six basic food types are represented by one vended example of each food item level, (with seasonal additions that do not change the basic structure.) Food items are not tied to these specific levels, but will follow the overall rough progression of this framework.
There are also foods that restore a percentage of the character's health and/or mana. All characters will derive the same percentage benefit from consuming these foods, although these with larger health and/or mana pools will gain a larger actual amount. These foods can therefore be consumed by characters of any level, as opposed to most foods which become far less useful once the character is above a certain level. is an example.
Sources of food
Food can easily be purchased from NPC vendors, which appear on your minimap as a bread/milk icon () when using the tracking feature. The food vendors are well distributed and very common, for instance all inns have food for sale, but finding the specific food type vendor when you need it for your pet can be a pain. Gorillas eat only fruit and fungus, for example, and you may be hard pressed to find the vendors. Vended foods are always of the consumable type, so the vended fish is always the cooked version.
Food items can be received as quest rewards. These are helpful, but limited; if you use a lot of food (hunters) you will need other sources. These are often the same item as a vended food.
- Humanoid mobs drop edible food of a random type as if they were carrying it to consume it. These are often the same item as a vended food.
- Many beast mobs frequently drop food ingredient meat, representing their flesh. The most restricted diet pets will eat only meat, but because it drops so often, they are easy pets to feed.
- Aquatic and semi-aquatic mobs will often drop fish. It is always the uncooked version, and often has the name 'raw ...' but is not of the food type Raw Fish. This usually appears to represent stomach contents, but Loch Frenzy drops , and it is unclear whether this is stomach contents or its own flesh.
- Some aquatic humanoids, like murlocs and naga can drop clams. Clams are not food per se, but are container items which contain clam meat (and sometimes a pearl as well). Clam meat is an ingredient, not a consumable.
You can often find edible food in chests. These will be of any food type. These are often the same item as a vended food.
Food can be made by player characters using the cooking profession, a secondary profession that all player characters can learn (it does not count against their primary profession limit). Cooking will make food ingredients that are inedible by player characters into consumable food products. Often, higher level recipes will use similar ingredients and produce better quality food. Many fish can be eaten raw but have better food properties when cooked. Buffing food is primarily made by cooking. The food in demand by players for their characters, as opposed to pets, is invariably cooked food or a hard to find food ingredient used to make the food they want to cook. Pets can eat cooked food of the proper type, but do not get the benefit of the increased stats.
Fish can be obtained by fishing. You should be able to keep yourself supplied with fish if you need it, and you should be able to purchase other players' surplus fish at the auction house. This makes feeding fish-eating pets easy as well.
Mages can conjure food which restores both health and mana. The required level of the food and its restorative value correspond roughly to the level of the mage, with new and more powerful refreshments every few levels. Conjured food is mostly the same as other food during play but cannot be sold on the auction house nor to vendors and as a conjured item disappears if you log out for 15 minutes. Creating food consumes mana, so plan ahead and ask for food before the battle starts and mana becomes a critical resource. Conjured bread can be used to feed bread-eating pets.
There are numerous achievements associated with food:
- In the Exploration achievements categories are several achievements attained by consuming a selection of foods
- The World Events achievements category includes some achievements for consuming special event foods
- The cooking section of the Professions achievements category includes numerous achievements for cooking or consuming foods
Holiday events usually have achievements that involve eating some food related to that holiday, either consuming all the different varieties available (such as candies and chocolates during Love is in the Air), or consuming large amounts of one kind of food (such as during Noblegarden). Note that the latter type of achievement may not be possible in one sitting, even if you have enough food, as consuming enough food items in rapid succession will eventually result in an error message informing the player that the character is too full to eat any more. More research is needed to determine how long this condition takes to wear off.