meat and potatoes

noun Informal.
the essential or basic part: Community service is the meat and potatoes of this program.

probably earlier than 1950–55 Unabridged


[meet-n-puh-tey-tohz, -tuhz]
adjective Informal.
fundamental; down-to-earth; basic: What are the meat-and-potatoes issues of the election?
Also, meat-and-potato.

1945–50 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

meat and potatoes

The fundamental part or parts of something, as in This paragraph is the meat and potatoes of the contract. This metaphoric term transfers what some regard as basic fare to the basics of an issue. [Mid-1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
They found that pounded meat and potatoes caused more weight gain than raw food.
Representing that fatty midsection of the gift pyramid, this function is the
  meat and potatoes of development.
They will be light weight and equipped with pockets for food capsules, which
  she will eat instead of meat and potatoes.
But the real meat and potatoes lie in its sweet picture and true, natural
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