How To: Stock Your Pantry with Grocery Pick Up & Make Quinoa and Chickpea Bowls


I pride myself in my meal planning abilities.

Not to toot my own horn, but I think preparing food for the upcoming week and planning each night’s dinner is one of my best skills; that, and juggling.

But raise your hand if you feel life has just become busy with a capital ‘B’? I can imagine seeing a lot of raised hands. So there are definitely weeks where the weekend meal planning session falls to the wayside. How then, are you expected to get a healthy and Instagram-worthy meal on the table? Enter, “your pantry.”

Having a well-stocked pantry is key for creating easy and healthy everyday meals. Getting dinner on the table is way less daunting when you know you already have over half of the ingredients on hand. So, when we had the opportunity to partner with Walmart Canada on a new program that would give all our How To Eat friends a little help in this department, we jumped right in.


Go to using your computer or the Walmart Canada app, add your selections to the cart, click on your pick up zone and boom – your order is ready faster than ordering takeout. The minimum purchase is just $50. The four downtown Toronto pick-up locations are conveniently located at Yonge & Davisville, Yorkville, Leslieville, and Harbourfront. Simply choose your preferred location and pick-up time, with as little as one day’s notice or same day if ordered before 11 a.m., add in a $3 service fee and you are done.


Way back when we were blogger newbies we shared our top 15 pantry items. We are now four years older and wiser and have created an updated list of our top 10 pantry must-haves. When I used the Walmart app to order my pantry essentials, I found the system not only easy to use, but extremely affordable. My pantry items accounted for just $34.90 of my total order. And don’t forget, price matching!

You can also save your pantry ‘favourites,’ so when you run low and need to restock, the items are easy to access and add to your cart. Also, when preparing your oder, everything in your cart will remain there, even as you log in and out throughout the week. It’s a living shopping list you can build on!

Top 10 Pantry Essentials

  1. Canola oil – I love the versatility of canola oil. It’s perfect for high heat cooking and is also a neutral flavour in salad dressings and baked goods.
  2. Apple cider vinegar – There are a lot of great vinegars out there, but this is my go-to. I love the subtle sweetness it adds to dressings and sauces.
  3. Chickpeas – These are a great way to bump up the protein in any salad or stir fry. They are also delicious as roasted for a snack or mashed into a sandwich filling.
  4. Quinoa – It cooks in 15 minutes, has more protein than any grain, and is just as delicious for breakfast as it is for dinner.
  5. Peanut butter – Go for the all natural kind that actually tastes like peanuts. Loaded with good-for-you fat, it’s the perfect snack or breakfast and when added with some soy sauce, makes for a delicious sauce.
  6. Maple syrup – Buy the REAL deal here. Perfect on pancakes and in salad dressings and can be used interchangeably with any other liquid sweetener.
  7. Whole wheat pasta – You get the added bonus of extra fibre and having a box in your pantry means you are always 10 minutes away from dinner on the table.
  8. Dried fruit, nuts, and seeds – Raisins, apricots, dried cranberries, or any dried fruit for that matter can jazz up a salad or an ordinary bowl of oatmeal. Toss some nuts into a salad in place of croutons for some crunch or just toss ’em in your mouth for a snack.
  9. Canned tuna – Choose light tuna for lower mercury levels.
  10. Spices and herbs – salt & pepper are a must, but having some other key spices can take an ordinary dinner to a new level. Essentials for me are cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, curry powder, oregano, cinnamon, and thyme.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, you can easily add some fresh ingredients to these staples and create delicious and healthy meals. All of these products are available online at and at such an affordable cost. Note, if for some reason they are out of one of your essentials, they will gladly choose an appropriate substitution for you.

I decided to take my now perfectly stocked pantry for a whirl with this delicious quinoa and chickpea bowl.


This recipe comes together in no time at all using mostly pantry ingredients you already have on hand. Because you already have gone online and stocked your kitchen with this list, right!? Good.

Chickpeas, quinoa, and peanut butter – three of my kitchen pantry must-haves – form the base of this vegetarian bowl. Apple cider vinegar and maple syrup help form the sweet and creamy peanut dressing.



All I’ve added is some fresh baby spinach and roasted sweet potatoes. While this bowl is a complete meal on its own, you could also throw in some canned tuna, any leftover grilled meat or fish, or some roasted tofu to up the protein. Any leftover veggies you want to use up in your fridge could be tossed in as well. Make a large batch on the weekend, and you have lunch or dinner set for the week ahead.


Whatever you do don’t forget the sauce – it just turns this bowl of grains, beans, and veg into one of those oh so trendy Buddha bowls found at every vegetarian restaurant these days. Except way more affordable, healthful, and delicious.

You are only one click away from having this meal on your table. So what are you waiting for?!



Quinoa Bowl with Chickpeas, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach and Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 Cups water
  • 2 sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 5oz baby spinach
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup


While I've assembled these bowls individually, you could also toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to eat. It will keep in the fridge up to 5 days. The quinoa, sweet potatoes, and peanut sauce can all be made a day or two ahead of time.


1. Place quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub sweet potato with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
3. Divide quinoa among four bowls. Top with spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. Drizzle peanut sauce over top and dig in!

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the Grocery Pick-Up program. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.


How to: Use Grocery Pick-Up and Make Grab-and-Go Breakfast Frittata

December can be a real son of a gun.

I won’t lie friends.  As I write this post, I have about 86 things on-the-go and I’m struggling to get my act together. Don’t get me wrong, decorating the tree, using copious amounts of butter for my holiday baking and watching my 1-year-old lose her mind (in a bad way) on Old Saint Nick’s lap, totally gives me the Christmas warm and fuzzies.

But having to juggle all that with work, commuting, holiday parties, dog walks, exercise, laundry, dinnertime and grocery shopping? How ‘bout no?

PS, I’m calling your bluff if you tell me you don’t hope for your kid to be a little scared of Mall Santa. Why? Best photos ever.

Point is life is busy. Add a hectic holiday schedule in to the mix and, well, my Christmas goose is cooked.

Lately I’ve been looking for ways to streamline…life, in any way I can, so when Dara and I were approached to work with Walmart Canada in promoting their urban Toronto Grocery Pick-Up service through Penguin Pick-Up, I thought, “Gee, what perfect timing.”

I know Walmart Supercentres (which carry groceries) have been a thing for a long while, but in my 13 years of living in the heart of this great city, I haven’t lived close enough to one to consider them a viable option. Having somewhere to grocery shop close to home is #1 on my list of “Reasons I Shop Where I Shop.”

With their new grocery pick-up locations at Yorkville, Yonge & Davisville, Leslieville and Harbourfront, Walmart is now officially in the hunt for my hard earned grocery dollars.

First, let me briefly tell you how it works. Then, I’ll give you the inside scoop on why it’s kind of great. Finally, a recipe (obvs)!

You can visit or download the Walmart Canada app on to your Smartphone. The app will take you through a quick tutorial to show off some of its cool features.


The online shopping aisles, which allow you to browse by category, are both intuitive and easy to navigate. You can also browse by Rollback items (sale items) in each category, so it’s like you’re carrying the flyer in one hand and pushing your cart with the other (that’s what I call streamlining).

If you know what you’re looking for, you can also use the search engine.

*Warning: if you search ‘yogurt’ be prepared for over 200 hits! The variety is actually staggering.

Add and remove items from your virtual cart as you go and when you’re all set choose a location  and a two-hour time window for pick-up. You can even pick up same day via Penguin Pick-Up, for orders placed before 11 am.


Side note: If you’re feeling weird about someone else picking produce for you, let me tell you that, first, I totally get it (I was there too) and second, don’t. Their experienced shoppers are awesome and pick the best of the best. Truly, I couldn’t have picked better myself.

I picked up my order at the Leslieville Penguin Pick-Up location, where the entrance and parking are well marked.  A nice young man came to greet me at my car window with a tablet and confirmed my order with a piece of ID then proceeded to load up the trunk.  I was in and out under 5 minutes. Guys, 5 minutes!!! (more streamlining!)


On top of the obvious time savings, another reason I like this service is the quality guarantee. If you’re not totally happy with any product in your order, you’ll be credited or refunded without fuss by calling customer service. I was even reminded of this when I picked up my order.

Finally, and this is the big one, you save money. Like, a seriously decent amount. With Toronto real estate and rental rates soaring and the cost of food also on the rise, peeps like Dara and I, who also appreciate good quality fresh food, are looking outside the box to find new options. The prices online are the same great in-store prices Walmart is known for.

Here’s a new recipe using fresh groceries from my most recent pick-up order. I wanted to choose something that showcases fresh produce, you know, the me being-a-dietitian thing.


These simple grab–and-go breakfast frittatas are a quick, healthy, get-out-the-door-before-traffic-is-a-disaster breakfast. Make 12 at a time and freeze what you don’t eat within a couple of days and heat them with a quick zip in the microwave when you’re ready for more.


Customize as you will, but always be sure to cook your fillings thoroughly before adding the egg and baking. You want to avoid too much moisture.


img_0609img_0613img_0617I wish you luck in your holiday streamlining too, friends!


Grab and Go Breakfast Frittatas

Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes


  • 9 Large eggs (beaten)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 Tsp salt (divided)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 227g cremini or white mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • 3 Cups fresh chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 75g)


I love this Bon Appetit Guide to Making a Perfect Frittata and used their great guidelines to make these.


1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and a 1/4 tsp of the salt.
2. In a large frying or sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushroom and cook until most of the moisture is cooked out and they begin to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add red pepper and cook until softened, another 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, mix in spinach and remove from heat once it begins to wilt. Season with the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt.
3. Spray the inside of a 12 cup muffin pan thoroughly with cooking spray or brush with butter. Divide the vegetable mixture among the cups, about 2 tbsp each. Using a ladle, pour egg mixture over top, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle each with crumbled feta cheese.
4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until frittatas are puffed and very lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, and run a small spatula or knife around the edge of each cup to remove them.
5. Eat within 2-3 days if refrigerating or freeze in packs of two, first by wrapping them in paper towel and then transferring to small freezer bags. Reheat in microwave for about 1 minute on high in the paper towel (depending on your microwave you may need more or less).


How to: Kitchen Tip – Pantry Basics

Meal planning is a beautiful thing.

Putting together a menu for the upcoming work week is a task both Dara and I make a priority on weekends.

Life’s not always as organized as a meal plan though, and mine rarely pan out exactly as I had imagined.  Last minute social plans, late days at work and general fatigue can easily throw a wrench in my plan for a Thursday night 60-minute mushroom barley risotto.

And yes, there are weekends that come and go without a meal plan altogether. But this  does not mean a total collapse of my healthy eating plan!

Enter, a well stocked pantry.

Along with bits and bobs of any leftover vegetables, cheese or proteins in the fridge or freezer, a quick healthy meal can always be 15 or 20 minutes away (which kills the time it would take to order-in btw).

Dara and I collaborated on these top 15 staples we consider our ‘pantry basics’:

Pantry Basics


  • 1. Oil (Extra virgin for dressings and sautéing, canola or coconut for higher heat cooking)
  • 2. Vinegar (at least one but an assortment of wine, balsamic, apple cider keeps it interesting)
  • 3. Pasta (whole grain if possible, one 'short' such as orzo or penne and one 'long' such as spaghetti)
  • 4. Rice (whole grain as a first choice, and a quick cooking option such as basmati)
  • 5. Quinoa (an excellent quick and unrefined starch option)
  • 6. Canned Beans (chick peas, black beans & lentils are our top 3)
  • 7. Canned Whole Tomatoes (no added salt if you can find them)
  • 8. Tuna (for everyday use, choose 'light' tuna to ensure a lower mercury level)
  • 9. Chicken/ Beef/ Vegetable Stock (low sodium or no-added salt if possible)
  • 10. Coconut Milk
  • 11. Nuts & Seeds & Nut Butters (our faves are almond, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds & sesame seeds, peanut butter, almond butter and tahini (which may need to be refrigerated))
  • 12. Honey
  • 13. Dried Fruit (cranberries, apricots, cherries, raisins)
  • 14. Spices and Herbs (essentials are sea/kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, chili powder, curry powder, thyme, oregano)
  • 15. Baking Supplies (whole wheat/ white flour, oats, baking power and soda, instant yeast, white/brown sugar)
  • 16. Kraft Dinner and/or Mr. Noodles (ok, this is #16 but come on, we're human.)

Some pantry related tips:

  • Bulk food stores are a gold mine. If need be, I could get every single item on our list from my local Bulk Barn (even honey from a fun slushie-type dispenser!) If you’re trying quinoa, pumpkin seeds or dried apricots for the first time, you have the option to get a trial size portion. If you’re feeding morning glory muffins to an army, here’s where you can get a good deal without all the packaging.
  • Keep a running inventory list of your favourite pantry basics (you can print ours!).  Each time you run out of something on the list, add it to your grocery list for next week – right away, before you forget.
  • Stay organized! Keep like items, such as rice/pasta/quinoa and oil/vinegar/spices grouped together. For a great example, check out fellow Cookin’ Canuck blogger Dara’s incredible pantry makeover (even her ‘before’ shots are pretty awesome).
  • Think outside the box.  There are many shelf stable items out there that may become one of your pantry basics.  Some of my current favourites are: barley, corn meal, brown rice noodles, wheat berries, rice papers, panko bread crumbs, unsweetended shredded coconut, and a wide variety of spices including specialty salts and jamaican jerk seasoning.
Here are some of our recent recipes that rely heavily on our pantry basics:
At the very least, a well stocked pantry will mean you’re prepared for an Armageddon-type emergency!

How To: Organize Your Grocery Shopping List and Trip

We owe you an apology…we left you hanging last week and did not give you our usual Thursday post. But then again, you are probably all just finishing up those lasagna rolls so maybe the timing is just right! Forgive us? Good!

Do you want to know what I did on the weekend?

Each and every weekend, generally on Sunday, I sit down and get myself ready to head to the grocery store. Now, I know it may seem silly…why do I need to “get ready” to go to the grocery store? But the time you take to plan and organize your list will save you the hassle of spending 3 hours wandering around the aisles and coming home with absolutely NOTHING to help you cook for the week ahead. And it will also save you from running back to the store at least 3-4 times, sometimes mid stirring, for that one onion or extra cup of flour you forgot. (it’s happened to the best of us!)

The first thing I do is sit down, get out my computer to see what I’ve bookmarked this week, open my latest favourite cookbook (Smitten Kitchen is at the top of my list), and take out any recipes I may have pulled from magazines. I pick out what I want to make for the week and write it down. It’s not always a new recipe, sometimes a household favourite will make many weekly repeats. You don’t need any fancy spread sheets or laminated pages, a simple blank piece of paper and blue pen is just fine.

I also generally leave 1-2 days up in the air…for going out, ordering in, or whatever fun eating adventure comes up! Then I write out my grocery list. But not just a list…a categorized organized list that I swear, will change the way you shop!

I divide up the list into groups: Dairy, meat/fish, canned/shelf stable items, fruits/veggies, misc. It makes navigating the store that much easier.

Then I will take stock of what I have at home…check out the fridge, pantry, freezer, spice cabinet and make sure I don’t double buy any items. This also helps me see if I can make a meal out of anything I already have on hand. I also make sure to jot down any staples I need to re-stock on…things like yogurt, bananas, olive oil, apples, and milk, etc. are items I always like to have on hand and use daily.

 Then it’s off to the store! Pen in hand! That way you can cross off what you buy and circle what you can’t find to make sure you don’t miss anything. Those darn corn tortillas sure are a tricky item to find!

With this new method of shopping you will surely shave at least 20 minutes off your regular trip…you could probably even win Supermarket Sweep! And there will be no more running out for that darn onion or can of tomatoes you forgot mid stirring of your homemade tomato sauce.

The haul!

These fun and helpful “kitchen tips and tricks” posts are a new and different kind of post for us. Let us know what you think! Any cooking/meal planning/grocery shopping questions you have, send ’em are way! We’d love to hear from you!