Five for Six: Try These Easy Affordable Cancer-Fighting Dinners

Watch: Quick and Healthy Bento Breakfasts

man cookingWith new projects at the office and after school activities, serving healthy affordable meals presents a challenge to many families. To help you get started, here are some strategies along with five dinner menus you can serve at an average cost of $6 for a family of four.

Dinner: Six dollars and thirty minutes

Going to the supermarket armed with a shopping list is a well-known, but underused, tool for grocery savings. Spend a few minutes with your grocery store weekly flyer and paper and pencil to sketch out a few meals for the upcoming week. With a little meal planning, your list and shopping the weekly specials, your family can sit down to balanced, health-promoting dinners more often.

We developed five meals that you can prepare in 30 minutes. The average cost for each meal is about $6.00 for four people. And these menus follow AICR's model for a cancer-protective diet: 2/3 of your plate holds vegetables, fruit and grains and 1/3 or less contains animal foods such as poultry, lean meat, fish or dairy.

Shopping List

  • 1½ lbs chicken breast, boneless
  • 2½ lbs sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 (15 oz.) black beans
  • 4 (1.5 oz. each) whole wheat tortillas
  • 4 oz. reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lb red leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 gallon 1% milk
  • 1 (15 oz.) canned chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 lb summer squash
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 4 oz. whole-wheat pasta
  • 8 oz. package of frozen berries
  • Watermelon (1/2 lb.)
  • 16 oz. plain low fat yogurt
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1¼ lb. white potatoes
  • 1¾ lb broccoli
  • 1/2 dozen eggs
  • Whole-wheat bread (need 4-1 oz. slices)
  • Whole-wheat hamburger buns (need 4)
  • Dried basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Red pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Worcestershire sauce


5 Days of 30 Minutes Meals
Est. Cost
Herbed chicken breast
Sweet potato
Steamed veggies
Low-fat milk
Black bean and sweet potato burrito
Green salad
Chicken and veggie stew
Whole-wheat pasta
Yogurt with berries
Cheese omelet
Green salad
Whole-wheat toast
Low-fat milk
Turkey burgers whole grain bun
Steamed broccoli
Total cost for the week: $29.14


Thirty Minutes to Dinner

Monday: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken breasts in baking dish, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of dried basil. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Slice sweet potatoes, spread on lightly oiled glass pan and bake or microwave. Microwave 3 cups frozen veggies. (Save 1/3 of chicken for Wednesday night and 1/3 of sweet potatoes for Tuesday night dinner)

Tuesday: For burritos: Drain and rinse 1 can black beans. Chop sweet potatoes leftover from Monday night. Heat beans and potato together in large skillet with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup water or apple juice. While this heats, lay out 4 whole-wheat tortillas and grate 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Divide hot sweet potato/bean mixture and spread on tortillas, top each with 2 tablespoons cheese and fold into burrito shape. Brown burritos lightly in sprayed skillet. While these brown, prepare salad with 4 cups lettuce and 2 chopped carrots. Serve watermelon slices for dessert.

Wednesday: Dice chicken leftover from Monday dinner, place in large saucepan with 1 can (preferably no-salt added) diced tomatoes, 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed) chopped summer squash and 4 chopped carrots. Season with red and black pepper to taste. While this cooks, prepare 4 ounces pasta according to package directions. Serve yogurt topped with berries for dessert.

Thursday: Make omelet with 6 eggs and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Prepare green salad with 4 cups green and 2 chopped carrots. Serve with watermelon slices, toast and milk.

Friday: Scrub potatoes and cook in gently boiling water for 15-20 minutes. While potatoes cook, prepare turkey burgers: mix a crushed garlic clove with 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar. Add garlic mixture to turkey and form 4 patties. Spray frying pan with cooking oil spray and cook over medium heat until cooked through. While burgers cook, steam broccoli in microwave or on stovetop.

Additional Resources

Quick and Healthy Bento Breakfasts


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