My diet is certainly not underwear-model perfect, but it is sustainable for me. These are my most common grocery store purchases:
Any fresh produce I feel like eating. This typically means:
-other fruits in particular when the mood and prices strike.
-boneless, skinless chicken (breast or thigh)
-tuna (packed in water)
-shrimp (when on sale)
-eggs, or liquid egg whites when those are on sale
-lean ground beef (also when on sale)
-law fat cottage cheese
-part skim mozerella
-at least one block of a fattier cheese (not ideal, but I eat it anyway)
-beans (any variety)
-diced tomatoes (I make chili with the dried goods often)
-non-seasonal fruit packed in juice (not syrup)
-the aforementioned tuna
Frozen vegetables. Most often these will be:
Spices and condiments:
-teriyaki sauce (least healthy item in this category)
canola oil for stir frying
olive oil for anything else needing oil
butter or margarine (just being realist here)
some form of nut (pistachios recently)
100% whole grain bread (often from the day-old discount tray)
high protein pasta (Barilla's Pasta Plus)
[I can only make it a very short time on a low carb eating plan until the craving for bread and pasta is overwhelming. I figure it's better to just make good choices on my pasta and bread than to try to avoid them entirely]
Also, if you're really new to cooking, a couple of cooking items to consider, each of which makes cooking simpler. Let's face it, if you're tired when you walk in the door, it's that much more likely you'll eat a healthy meal if it's either already ready for you, or it requires a minimum of time and effort.
- A crock pot. I use mine at least twice a week. 5 minutes of throwing things into it in the morning yields a hot dinner as soon as I walk in the door. I spent like $30 on a good quality large one that has 4 different cooking times and automatically switches over to "keep warm" once that time has been reached, so I don't have to worry about burning things or the food getting cold. I also tend to make up a large batch of something at once, and then eat the leftovers for lunch that week. Soups, stews, roasts, chicken, pork...anything that you might want to cook slowly and have be extremely tender when it's finished.
- A wok. Stir frys are really fast, and a very easy way to get yourself to eat more fresh vegetables when they're in season. You'll want one that's cast iron, and if you've got gas burners on your stove you want one that has a round bottom. You can get a good quality one for $25ish
- A vegetable/rice steamer. It's easily the healthiest way to cook your veggies, and a steamer makes it very simple and safe. As a tip, you can add spices directly to the water while it's steaming, and end up with garlic broccoli or the like. Again, somewhere between $20 and $30 will get you a good quality steamer that can handle both veggies and rice.
-A Foreman grill, probably something to wait until the Fall to purchase. Having a heated lid and base greatly speeds cooking, and the angled design really does reduce the fat that you consume by a considerable margin. Grilling outdoors is more fun in the summer, but you can use the Foreman indoor all year long.