巧妇难为无米之炊 – qiao3fu4nan2wei2wu2mi3zhi1chui1
Literal translation – skilled wife difficult to without rice make good meal.
Even the most skilled of wives/women is unable to make a good meal without rice
This Chinese Proverb is used to describe situations where the materials given are not sufficient for the job. It means you cannot blame the person for the result or outcome when it was impossible to have a good outcome regardless of who handled the task.
Even the best cook in the world can’t make dinner if he doesn’t have any food. If the quality of the food is inferior the taste will be too. One cannot build a decent house without the right materials and one cannot do their job well if the boss is too cheap to buy decent tools.
I think you can use your imagination as to when and how to use this proverb as it pretty much speaks for itself. However it does give us a glimpse into the Chinese culture and how rice is such an important part of their culture. I would think “rice” is likely used in many idioms and proverbs.