bread and butter

bread spread with butter.
a basic means of support; source of livelihood; sustenance: The automobile industry is the bread and butter of many Detroiters.

1620–30 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bread and butter
1.  (modifier) a means of support or subsistence; livelihood: the inheritance was their bread and butter
2.  bread-and-butter
 a.  providing a basic means of subsistence: a bread-and-butter job
 b.  solid, reliable, or practical: a bread-and-butter player
 c.  expressing gratitude, as for hospitality (esp in the phrase bread-and-butter letter)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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