Welcome to On the Table, Blue Apron’s spotlight on home cooks. This column is all about the challenges and joys of cooking. We’re exploring how busy, food-loving families get dinner on the table every day. This month Ryan, a Blue Apron employee, tells us about balancing being a dad, cooking, volunteer duties, and having fun.

Family ice cream
Ryan, Raegan, and Sienna getting ice cream

Blue Apron: What does a typical weeknight dinner look like for you?

Ryan: The majority of our meals are Blue Apron-related. My wife does most of our grocery shopping outside of that. The Grocery Outlet is her favorite place to go. We live in California, and we also grow some vegetables in our backyard. 

We probably make dinner five times a week. My wife is a really good cook, so she does the majority of the cooking. I am a really good sous chef! I would say my wife probably cooks three times a week and I do two, or she’ll do four and I’ll do one. At a typical meal it’s me, my wife, and our two daughters. Sometimes we set up a system where whoever isn’t cooking plays with the kids, and sometimes we all get in the kitchen together. My youngest can be a little too helpful at times (she’s only one) but they love to help.  

Blue Apron: How often do you cook with Blue Apron?

Ryan: We get three Blue Apron meals a week every week, unless we forget, and we haven’t forgotten in awhile! Last week we got the Calabrian chile butter steaks and the hoisin turkey steam buns, and the miso salmon. They were all good, but we really loved the steak. 

I really love Blue Apron because from where I stand, I need to follow directions, but I can follow them really well. My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t need recipes as much. She can look in a cupboard and make a delicious meal when, to me, it looks like we don’t have any food. 

Family in the kitchen with dad cooking
Family in the kitchen with dad cooking

Blue Apron: How does cooking differ when you’re not eating a Blue Apron dinner? 

Ryan: It really varies! We do like takeout. Sometimes we’ll get food from a local sushi place we love, but sometimes we’ll take on cooking projects. On weekends, my mother-in-law comes over, and we’ll do big family dinners. My mom grew up in the restaurant business and is also a great cook so we love to go to her house for whatever she’s making. On weeknights, sometimes we’ll make simple pastas with basil and artichokes from the yard. My kids are four and one, so buttered noodles are their favorite thing.

Blue Apron: What would you make on a night when you felt too tired to cook, but needed to get something on the table? 

Ryan: On really busy nights, we’ll order take out. On Wednesdays, I volunteer at the local parks department, and we often end up doing something quick that night. Frozen chicken wings are a big savior for us. We always have chicken wings in the freezer, we’ll cook them in the air fryer with a little salt and pepper and hot sauce. The kids love them, and it’s easy to do quickly.

Blue Apron: How has working from home changed your cooking routine? 

Ryan: Working from home has actually given us more time to cook. If my wife is cooking lasagna, that’s another one of our go-tos, she’ll start the sauce in a few minutes during the day. The other day I prepped a Blue Apron meal before going to pick my daughter up at school. I love the extra time we’ve found to be together as a family. 

Blue Apron: What do you want to teach your kids about food? 

Ryan: My daughters are a big part of my motivation for cooking. So many of my own childhood memories tie back to food, and I really wanted to create that for my family. My daughter and I started a YouTube channel where we make ice cream. We both love ice cream, but a big reason that I wanted to start the channel together was to share that experience in the kitchen. Food is a huge part of who we are as a family. I love to think about the time that we cook together as creating memories for my girls.

How does Blue Apron fit into your life? Show us by tagging #letsblueapron on social for a chance to be featured in a future article.