Monitoring changes in the food and nutrient intake of a nation is important for informing the design and evaluation of policy. Surveys of household food consumption have been carried out annually in the UK since 1940 and, despite some changes over the years 1940–2000, the method used for the Expenditure and Food Survey (Living Costs and Food Survey from 2008) has been fundamentally the same since 2001. Using these surveys an analytical procedure was devised to compare food consumption and nutrient intake in Scotland with the Scottish dietary targets, and monitor change. This method takes into account contributions to composite foods and losses due to food preparation, as well as inedible and edible waste. There were few consistent improvements in consumption of foods or nutrients targeted for change over the period 2001–9. A significant but small increase was seen in mean fruit and vegetable consumption (259 g/d in 2001, 279 g/d in 2009, equating to an increase of less than 3 g/person per year). There was also a significant decrease in the percentage of food energy from SFA (15·5 % in 2001, 15·1 % in 2009) and from non-milk extrinsic sugars (15·5 % in 2001, 14·8 % in 2009), concurrent with a reduction in whole milk consumption and soft drink consumption, respectively. These small changes are encouraging, but highlight the time taken for even modest changes in diet to occur. To achieve a significant impact on the health of the present Scottish population, the improvements in diet will need to be greater and more rapid.