Malls and Minivans

Minivans and Malls
Yesterday we went to Overvecht, a shopping center outside the city center, and the home of an Albert Heijn XL. Albert Heijn is one of the major grocery store chains here in the Netherlands and they have stores in different sizes. There are the Ready-to-Go ones that carry basics and prepacked stuff good for those on the go wanting to pick up lunch or a simple dinner. Then there are the normal stores like the two we go to on a daily basis. Then there’s the XL, as in extra large, as in similar to the kind of large supermarket we have in the US. To be honest, the normal stores we go to here do just fine and we’ve never really felt the need to go to the XL, other than curiosity. Considering we have a small fridge/freezer, there’s no room for doing big weekly shopping trips.

Still, we were curious, so we decided to finally visit the store yesterday, since the weather wasn’t particularly inspiring for doing much else. With our normal grocery list in hand, we headed out and soon found ourselves in a shopping center like almost any other shopping center I knew in the US. It’s not a huge mall — we’ve got that in the city center at Hoog Catherijne — but it’s still a mix of typical stores. Clothing, food, wine, bikes, toys, drugstore … the usual suspects. For those of you in Greensboro, it’s similar to Friendly Shopping Center, but not quite so fancy. Like any shopping center in the US, the parking lot was also filled with minivans, station wagons and other family-friendly vehicles, as you can see in the photo above.

The grocery store itself wasn’t drastically different in its offerings. The same essentials were there, just with a few extra options sometimes. Plus they also had more of the kitchen-related items than our smaller stores have. They have a slightly more extensive “foreign” food section, including some American items such as marshmallows, boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, BBQ sauce, and Skippy peanut butter. None of it was that tempting, though, since none of it was stuff I regularly bought in the US, either.

They did, however, have Coleman’s Mustard Powder and the olive oil mister, both of which I purchased. Mustard powder isn’t found easily here, and cooking sprays are pretty much nonexistent except for bak spray (baking spray). I miss the convenience of the cooking sprays, and I’m tired of ended up with way more oil than I need when cooking, so it’s good to have this olive oil spray (pump, rather than aerosol).

In all, I’m glad we went, so we know what’s available there, but it’s not like we’ll be going regularly. We get by just fine here in the binnenstad (city center). On our way back home, I saw this view at a stoplight and still got a thrill. I do love the Domtoren (the tall tower in the skyline).
Always the Dom
But it was also nice to see some leafy green boulevards while we were out.

6 thoughts on “Malls and Minivans

  1. Alison,
    For your next fix of Colemans Dry Mustard Powder, just head to your nearest Jumbo Supermarket, they stock it (and Golden Syrup) for probably a heaps cheaper price.
    I’ve seen pump bottles for oil too (have to put my thinking cap on for where) you just fill with the type of oil of your choice, pump and you get a fine mist of oil in your pan… so you use far less than pouring it in.

  2. Ah, but we don’t have a Jumbo nearby, either. That’s the next grocery store I want to check out, though. I had meant to check the toko I go to, since they have a large selection of spices, but saw the Coleman’s and figured I’d go for it, since I always forget what I was looking for when I go to the tokos. This should last me a while. Our nearby Super de Boers does carry Golden Syrup, but that’s another item I rarely use.

    I know you can buy pump bottles for oil, but it’s one of those things that I don’t think about when I’m actually out and about. Plus, cooking stores make me want to buy everything! 🙂 I had seen on Kayotic Kitchen recently that some AH stores were now selling these pump bottles, so I figured I’d pick one up. I can always refill it when this one runs out. I tried it out last night and it did nicely!

  3. Oohh we do have a Jumbo here..I recently bought Cajun Seasonings and Im going back for the Jamaican Jerk Seasonings..Im going to see if they have the Mustard Powder. I have yet to find it here. I also noticed not all the stores carry the same stuff. I talk to other expats who can go into their Jumbo and AH and buy american products that mine never carry. We don’t have AH XL either..I hope we get one. I love visiting grocery stores to see wat spices and baking items I can scout out : )

  4. I have never been to one of those AH XL, so I’m curious too. I don’t know any in my area, but I think it’d be interesting to go once, to take inventory of what they have different from the usual supermarket.
    I just love that shot of the Dom and the traffic on the busy road. I also find those “wijken” just as you get out of U. very charming. I haven’t been able to find out the name of the place, though. I guess they were separate villages at one point that got later incorporated to the city? Whenever I go there I promise myself I’ll look up how to get there to explore, and then never do….

  5. I’ve driven passed a AH XL in Den Haag with my girlfriend a few times but never been in. I’ve always been curious as well if it’s anything like the big stores I know back in the UK.

  6. I thought I was one of the last ones to go to an AH XL, and now it turns out they’re not such common stores after all! It is definitely a store-by-store case whether they carry something that other stores stock regularly. There’s a difference even between the two regular AH stores in walking distance to me. Who knows, maybe the XL stores in other areas will carry even more variety (or less).

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