Types of food
There are six main types of food: bread, fish, fungi, meat, cheese, and fruit. The main difference between types of food is that the various types of hunter pets are only able to eat certain kinds of foods. Player characters can eat all six main types.
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. Fortunately, there is no in-game penalty for attempting to feed your pet something it will not eat. (The food item level, which is also relevant to feeding pets, can be found in the tool tip).
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.
Consumable food will have a description of the food benefits, clearly indicating consumable food status. 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 ingredient tooltips are sparse. 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 fish, 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
Food item level
Items in WoW have a property item level. This property is generally correlated with the level that the item can be used at, which lags, nominally ten less than the item level, but progresses at a similar rate, and more loosely, the overall properties and benefit of the item; the 'power' of the item. 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.
Use of food
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) and will consume one charge of the stack of food items. (Most, but not all, food has one charge per food item.) This will restore your health over a specified time period, during which you must remain seated and cannot engage in most other activities. You can eat and drink at the same time. (Drinks are similar to food, but restore mana). 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. Some food items can restore mana as well, at a similar rate as health.
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 WotLK food). 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 learning 'Tame Beast' from your trainer after reaching level 10. You will be able to make certain beasts your partner in crime. You can make a beast your pet only if they are in fact tameable and the same level as you or lower. To determine whether or not a certain beast is in fact tameable, you can do two things. You can try casting 'Beast Lore' on said beast that you are attempting to tame, or you can cast 'Tame Beast' which will tell you if they are tameable and regardless of being tameable either start the taming process (in which a channeling bar will appear as the beast attacks you) or a message will appear telling you they cannot be tamed. Using 'Beast Lore' is preferable because it not only tells you if they can be tamed, but also any special abilities they can learn and the types of food you can use to feed them. Along with the ability to tame any tamable pets, you will also get a pet command toolbar and some other pet related abilities including the ability to feed your pet.
You feed your active pet using the 'feed your pet' icon, the one that looks like a dog biscuit. Click the 'feed your pet' icon, then click the food in your inventory that you want to feed to your pet. The pet may accept the food, but if the food is a wrong type they may reject it. You can view the types of food your pet will eat by clicking your character screen and accessing the 'Pet' tab on the bottom. There will be a dog biscuit icon on the top right hand side that will display the types of food that pet will eat. Feeding your pet restores health rather than making the pet happier, increasing its effectiveness, and over time, and its loyalty like it had done prior to the Cataclysm expansion.
Hunter pets generally need food of around their level for it to be worth the trouble. If the food's item level is too low, ie: 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.
is food for hunter pets, but used differently than 'feeding your pet' and to different ends. Pet treats are used (by right clicking), just like you would eat food, and do not affect pet happiness, instead they provide a buff for the pet. used to be a pet treat, but was changed to junk in Cataclysm.
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 gotten 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.
Consumable food and food ingredients are frequently dropped by mobs.
- 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 nagas 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.
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.
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 quota.) 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.
Mages can conjure bread type food (and can conjure drinks). The level of the food and corresponding restorative value increases as the mage learns more powerful versions of the conjure food spell. Conjured food is mostly the same as other food during play but cannot be sold on the auction house nor to vendors and disappears when you log out. 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.
The general achievement requires a character to "Sample 50 different kinds of Azeroth's delectable dishes.". Only foods that provide a restorative effect over time appear to count for this achievement. Food-like items that provide only potion-like benefits do not appear to count. Foods with different forms, raw fish and cooked fish, for example, each count separately. Event foods count toward this achievement. Food conjured by a mage counts as well.
Holiday events usually also 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.