Save the green – healthy eating on a budget

save the green

By Marisa Morales, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Money is a powerful tool; it allows us to travel, have shelter, further our education, and most importantly to purchase food, an obvious necessity in life. How many times have you struggled with money and ended up skipping meals or eating a cup of noodles because it saved money? As a college student, I understand how difficult it can be to shop for healthier food items, such as produce and meat, when less healthy food items seem more affordable; things like frozen meals and boxed cereal. Fortunately, there are some tricks that will help you save on money while still eating healthy.

  1. Beans, beans, beans! Canned beans are often less than a dollar each which allows you to stock up on a variety of them for several meals, such as black beans for tacos, kidney and garbanzo beans for salads, etc. Beans are a great source of fiber and can be used as a source of protein, instead of meat, which can often be expensive for a college student.
  2. Bulk up! If you find that you are purchasing the same food items quite frequently, I would recommend buying them in bulk to 1) save money and 2) save time.  Plus, the larger amount is a great opportunity to meal prep for the week ahead. Check out the recipe below for my favorite meal prep!
  3. Freeze everything! If you find that a lot of your food is spoiling faster than you can eat it, store your leftovers in the freezer. Most foods can be stored in the freezer for a significant amount of time without losing any nutritional value. Speaking of which, purchasing frozen vegetables and fruit is a great idea when certain produce is out of season and if you don’t have time to cook/prep the produce. Also great for making smoothies!

If you are ever at UC Davis Memorial Union, I highly encourage you to stop by Aggie Compass located just past the Market on the first floor. Aggie Compass is a one-stop-shop for all your basic needs. They offer resources for housing, financial wellness, mental wellness, and food security. I spent the past year volunteering with Fruit and Veggie Up!, a program run by Aggie Compass. The goal of this program is to help reduce food insecurity amongst UC Davis students. We understand that not everyone lives close to a grocery store or has enough money to buy food. This program is great because it allows you to pick free produce two days a week as long as you have your student ID!

One Pan Italian Sausage and Veggies

Prep time: 15 minutes             Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 2 large carrots (~2 cups)
  • 2 red potatoes (~2 cups)
  • 1 small-medium zucchini (~2 ⅓ cups)
  • 2 red bell peppers (~2 cups)
  • 1 head of broccoli (~1 ½ cups)
  • 16 ounces Smoked Italian Turkey or Chicken Sausage


  • ½ tablespoon EACH: dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, dried thyme
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 ½ tablespoons of olive oil

*this recipe is very easy to make and can be prepared with a variety of ingredients and seasonings, but I highly suggest that the veggies be prepared exactly as instructed in order to ensure they all cook at the same time*


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil to avoid messes. Set aside.
  2. Wash, peel and cut the carrots into thin slices (save the peel for a nutritious snack later   on!) Wash, peel the red potatoes (this is optional, I love the peel on) and cut into small wedges.
  3. Wash, halve the zucchini and cut 1 cm thick coins of zucchini. Chop the head of broccoli into florets. Wash and remove the stem and seeds from the red bell peppers, then cut into medium-sized slices. Chop the sausage into thick coins.
  4. Pour all the prepped veggies and sausage onto the lined sheet pan.
  5. Use a small bowl to combine the desired seasonings and olive oil, mix well.
  6. Drizzle all the seasoning and oil mixture on top of the veggies and sausage. Thoroughly toss to coat.
  7. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the pan and stir the veggies and sausage before placing it back into the oven for 10-20 more minutes, or until they are crisp tender.
  8. Remove the sheet from the oven and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
  9. Serve with rice or quinoa and enjoy the meal!

The great thing about this recipe is that there are many possible variations depending on vegetables and seasonings you prefer. I have made this dish so many times that I don’t even measure out my vegetables or seasonings anymore, I just add to the dish until it looks yummy!

Original recipe:

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