This article seeks to contribute to an understanding of household-level food security in South Africa using publicly available household survey data from Statistics South Africa. The two datasets that are used in particular are the General Household Survey, an annual household survey that began in 2002, and the Income and Expenditure Survey of 2005/06. Because these surveys are not designed for the analysis of household-level food security, it is not possible to do the kind of detailed analysis made possible by purpose-designed surveys. However these datasets have some value in respect of understanding food security, namely: large sample sizes; the depth of complementary types of information that assist in contextualising the experience of food insecurity and, in the case of the General Household Survey, regularity. Among the findings are a decline in the experience of hunger during the period 2002–2007, and significantly lower food expenditure per capita in rural areas, suggesting a greater extent of ‘self-provisioning’ than is commonly assumed.