Mealtimes in residential care homes are fundamentally social occasions, providing temporal structure to the day and opportunities for conversation and companionship. Food and drink are imbued with social meanings and used to express and create relationships between people. There is a dearth of research exploring care home residents' mealtime experiences in the United Kingdom. This paper reports on particular findings from a qualitative study which investigated factors influencing nutritional care provided to residents in two different types of residential care settings in South Wales, UK. Data were generated through focus group interviews with relevant staff members (N = 15), individual interviews with managers (N = 4) and residents (N = 16) of the care homes and their informal carers (N = 10), observation of food preparation and mealtimes throughout the day, and analysis of appropriate documents. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. This paper's focus is on the ways in which care home residents' experiences and understandings of mealtimes were influenced by various environmental factors, such as the home's geographical location, physical lay-out and ambience. Moreover, the shared meaning of mealtimes for residents, informal carers and staff was constructed from each group's socio-cultural background, family experiences and memories, and was integral to residents' sense of normality, community and identity.