From http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2540203

I. Nutrition: I think nutrition is highly over analyzed when talking about beginners since everyone is always looking for the next best thing.
1. Daily Caloric Levels:
I feel that the best way to determine a beginners caloric level is to take your bodyweight and multiply it by 14. BW *14 is a great place to start, if you haven't been eating clean and with a good routine stickk with that caloric level for 2-3 weeks before changing anything to let your body get adjusted.

2. How many meals throughout the day?
There should not be a set number of meals throughout the day. Alot of people get caught up in eat 4-6 meals per day, but they realize they haven't eaten in 8 hours and try to cram down 3-4 meals within a 4 hour time period. This does not work the same due to rates of digestion, insulin release, adipose storage etc etc. You should eat every 2-3 hours... period. If you can't get a full meal in then just eat something HEALTHY. Nuts are a great thing to eat when in a bind.

3. Macronutrient Breakdown
I'm a firm believer that a 40/40/20 split macronutrient wise is a great place for beginners to start their dieting adventures. A 40/40/20 split is making sure 40% of your daily calories (bw * 14) come from protien, 40% of your daily calories come fro carbohydrate sources (good carbohydrates) and 20% of your daily caloric intake comes from fat. So for example, someone who wants to gain weight weighs 160 lbs. 160 * 14 = 2240 (round that up or down depending on if you want to lose weight or gain weight... this is as far as I want you to change calorie numbers for now) comes out to 2300 calories. 40% of 2300 calories = 920 calories (divide that by 4 since 1 gram of protein and carbohydrate = 4 calories) and you come out with 230 grams of protein a day. Since 40% is used for carbohydrate intake too you get 230 grams of carbohydrates daily too. 20% of 2300 calories = 460 calories (divide that by 9 since 1 gram of fat = 9 calories) and you come out with 51 grams of fat per day. So daily you need to consume 230 grams of protein/ 230 grams of carbs/ 50 grams of fat (just to make it easier). Now in your head calculate how many hours you are awake daily. I am awake for 16 hours a day. Divide that by 2.5 (since you eat every 2-3 hours) and you get 6 meals daily. (It's impossible to eat .4 a meal).
So we are going to take 230/230/50 (our 40/40/20 ratio) and divide each of those by 6. We come out with 38/38/8 - this is what we want each meal to be around macronutrient wise. So if you can just eat a snack and can't get the full thing in, then try to spread the macronutrients you couldn't get in that meal throughout the rest for the day.
Now here is where it gets tricky for some, I am a firm believer that you should not take in carbohydrates directly before bed UNLESS UNLESS!!!!! You just got done training (some people can only workout late at night due to schedule conflicts). Now i want you to take those 38 carbs from that last meal (keep the rest of protein and fat there) and spread them out into your 1st and 2nd meal. So meal #1 and meal #2 would come out to be 38/57/8 macronutrient ratio wise.

4. Pre-Workout Nutrition:
Pre workout is just starting to get popular and I think it is very gimmicky. I believe one of those meals you eat during the day should be eaten an hour - 45 minutes before working out. Thats it... not that hard is it.

5. Post-Workout Nutrition:
Now here comes the ensuing shit storm where huge arguments are going to break out, governments are going to declare war on other countries, and murder will happen in 4 seperate states. My number one rule is post workout nutrition was developed for marathon runners/triathlon athletes/bicyclists people, not for working out. It was to help their muscles recover after 3-4 hours of GRUELING INTESE ACTIVITY. Lifting weights is strenuous yes, but not when compared to those sports. But I am just one person and take what I say about this with a grain of salt just incase you don't believe it or whatever. (Remember we are talking about beginners). If you still want post workout nutrition then I break it down into 3 groups Fat-Asses (bodyfat > 15%, Lean People (bodyfat between 10-15%) Shredded People (bodyfat < 9%). If you want an accurate percentage of your bf% by just looking in the mirror, then take whatever you think it is and add 3-5% onto it.
Now Back to PWO:
Fat Asses (who want to lose weight): I recommend 1.5-2 servings of a BCAA supplement (I will get to BCAA's later in the supplement section)
Lean People (who want to stay lean while getting bigger): I recommend 25g of whey protein and a multi-grain bagel (around 60g carbs)
Shredded People (who want to stay lean while getting bigger): I recommend 25g of whey protein and 60g of Carbs from 100% Fruit Juie or powdered gatorade (2.5-3 cups of fat free chocolate milk does the same thing)
Now the key to post-workout nutrition is: do not coun't this into your daily caloric or macronutrient totals - do not even count this as a meal. Consider it as part of the workout and not food related.

6. What to eat?:
Protein: Lean Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Tuna, Cottage Cheese, Eggs, Fish
Carbohydrates: VEGETABLES (EVERY COLOR PLEASE), multi-grain breads/bagels, oats (steel cut or quick oats), granola, fruits (the most caloric dense you can find prunes, dates, raisins, berries), whole wheat pasta, brown or white rice, legumes, sweet potatos, yams.
Fats: Olive Oil, Egg Yolks, Fish Oil, Flax Oil, Nuts, Natural Peanut Butter, Dairy

7. Cheat meals:
I know you can't live on a perfect diet forever and things come up. This is why I use the 90% rule that Dr. John Berardi came up with. It basically means, you have 10% of your weekly meals to either miss or cheat on. This is figured out by adding up every meal of the week (like I have around 6 meals a day *7 = 42 meals) and multiplying by 10% so I get 4.2 cheat meals a week. Round UP!! WOOHOO so that puts me at 5 cheat meals a week. A cheat meal is considered anytime you dont eat something within that 2-3 hour time period, or cant stick to that macronutrient ratio. That is it. It's really not that hard. You know you have something coming up then save a meal for then etc.

II. Rest:
For maximal results and health benefits please sleep 6-8 hours a night. This doesn't mean say oh I have to get up at 8am so I can go to sleep at 2am because it still might take 30 minutes to fall asleep dropping you below that time frame.

IV. Supplements:
I believe that there are 3-4 supplements every person should take regarding their goals, or current physical state.

Powdered protein (I prefer regular whey for after I workout and team skip from trueprotein.com for all my meals I have to make in a hurry).
Fish Oil or Flax Oil (if you can't stand fish or get fish burps etc).
Greens + http://www.greensplus.com/ (or some other whole vegetable alternative). See Greens Plus. See Total Whey and proteĆ­nas

The next 2 are actual supplements that should taken depending on your goals.
BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids) these are basically the muscle building amino aids in their purest form. They are quick a great workout supplement (refer to post-workout nutrition), and the building blocks for muscle and muscle repair.
Creatine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creatine Kre-alkalyn, Monohydrate, Ethyl Ester) I prefer monohydrate.