Good food comes from good ingredients. Buy the best you can afford. Shop the farmer's market to get the freshest local produce and eggs. Chefs advise buying vegetables with leaves and roots still attached -- that way you know they are fresh. Don't forget your herbs, either. Dried herbs don't come close to matching the same earthy flavors as newly picked.
When shopping for meat, always get the best cut you can find. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades beef on eight levels. However, you should use only the top three -- prime, choice or select. Make sure the USDA stamp appears on the meat's label to ensure you're getting a quality cut. Look for a nice marbling effect.
If you're really going for that fine dining taste, be prepared to temporarily step away from your diet. Buy full-fat butter, cream and cheese. The fat is where the flavor is! And speaking of flavor, don't forget to buy high-quality olive oil.