Potential merits of a social practice perspective for examining the meanings and dynamics of family food include moving beyond individual behaviour, and exploring how practices emerge, develop and change. However, researchers have struggled to encourage reflection on mundane practices, and how to understand associated meanings. Drawing on a study of families in South Wales, this article reflects on the value of the diary-interview approach in addressing these methodological challenges, and aims to explore and understand the dynamics of control across family contexts. Contemporary practice theories distinguish between practices as ‘performances’ and practices as ‘entities’ and the diary-interview method facilitated an examination of these dimensions. Detailed accounts of daily ‘performances’ (through diaries), alongside reflection on underlying contexts and ‘entities’ (through interviews), illustrated the entanglement of control, practices and context. The article adds further complexity to the concept of practice ‘bundles’ which facilitated an understanding of how food was interrelated with other practices – across family contexts and across generations. Sociological approaches with a practices perspective at the core, offer potential for developing public health interventions by acknowledging: the relational meaning of food; the embeddedness of food within everyday practices; and the need to consider interventions across a range of policy areas.