Nutritious and enjoyable eating experiences are important for the health and wellbeing of older adults. Social gerontology has usefully engaged with the role of time in older adults’ eating lives, considering how routines and other temporal patterns shape experiences of food, meals and eating. Building on this foundation, the paper details one set of findings from qualitative doctoral research into older adults’ experiences of food, meals and eating. Informed by phenomenological ethnography, it engages with one of four dimensions of the human lifeworld – the temporal dimension. The research involved repeated in-depth interviews, walking interviews and observation with 21 participants aged 72–90 years, living in rural Tasmania, Australia. The temporal elements of older adults’ experiences are detailed in terms of the past, present and future. The findings show that older adults have vivid memories of eating in uncertain and austere times, and these experiences have informed their food values and behaviours into old age. In the present, older adults employ several strategies for living and eating well. Simultaneously, they are oriented towards their uncertain eating futures. These findings reveal the implicit meanings in older adults’ temporal experiences of food, meals and eating, highlighting the importance of understanding older adults’ lifeworlds, and their orientation towards the future, for developing effective responses to concerns about food and eating in this age group.