This study sought to gain conceptual understanding of the situational nature of eating and drinking by analyzing 7 consecutive, qualitative 24-h recalls of foods and beverages consumed from 42 US adults who worked in non-managerial, non-professional positions. Participants were purposively recruited to vary in age, gender, occupation, and household composition. For each recall, participants described foods and beverages consumed, location, people present, thoughts and feelings, and activities occurring at that time. Analysis of verbatim transcripts of interviews identified 1448 eating and drinking episodes. Constant comparative analysis of participants' descriptions for episodes resulted in a conceptual framework that characterizes eating and drinking episodes as holistic and as having eight interconnected dimensions (food and drink, time, location, activities, social setting, mental processes, physical condition, recurrence). Each dimension has multiple features that can be used to describe the episodes. In recalling episodes, participants used conventional labels (e.g. "dinner") as well as modified-conventional labels (e.g. "birthday dinner") and uniquely constructed labels (e.g. "unwind time"). Labels provided insights into the dimensions of the episodes. Results suggest approaches for researchers and practitioners who seek to understand how people manage everyday eating at a time when traditional meal patterns are changing.