This paper provides a critical review of recent research on the consumption of ‘convenience’ food, highlighting the contested nature of the term and exploring its implications for public health and environmental sustainability. It distinguishes between convenience food in general and particular types of convenience food, such as ready-meals, tracing the structure and growth of the market for such foods with a particular emphasis on the UK which currently has the highest rate of ready-meal consumption in Europe. Having established the definitional complexities of the term, the paper presents the evidence from a systematic review of the literature, highlighting the significance of convenience food in time-saving and time-shifting, the importance of recent changes in domestic labour and family life, and the way the consumption of convenience food is frequently moralized. The paper shows how current debates about convenience food are part of a longer discursive history about food, health and nutrition. It discusses current levels of public understanding about the links between convenience food, environmental sustainability and food waste. The paper concludes by making a case for understanding the consumption of convenience food in terms of everyday social practices, emphasising its habitual and routine character.