Here’s What Neil Patrick Harris Ordered on His First Date with David Burtka

Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka talk about their new HelloFresh collab (with the sound of this menu, our box is on order!), their family's favorite meal, and how they stay healthy when work is intense.

Neil Patrick Harris plays a jilted lover in his new Netflix series, Uncoupled—but in real life, things on the family front are sweet. Harris and his husband David Burtka have just announced their partnership with HelloFresh, for which Burtka—an actor, professional chef and the author of Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebrationdeveloped exclusive, mouth-watering recipes. (Think Roasted Chicken Leg with Brown Butter Asparagus and shrimp tacos with “super salsa.”)

The couple has teamed with the meal kit brand to bring elevated, approachable classics to the whole family. Here, Burtka and Harris dish with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest on how they get their 11-year-old twins to eat healthy, the family’s favorite recipes and the role food plays in their lives.

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Why sharing a meal means more

Before he started dating Burtka in 2004, Harris says his palate was not very exciting. “He’s brought so much to my life—but especially all of the new flavors and the new styles of cuisine and cooking and new techniques.” 

And from one of their very first dates, Burtka could tell Harris was the one just from his lunch order. “I remember Neil ordering the chicken and waffles,” he told The Healthy, “and I knew it was meant to be.” 

Harris says since then, cooking and entertaining have only become even more “paramount” for their family, especially as they raise their children Gideon and Harper. “We treat the time spent creating the meal, enjoying the meal, even post-meal clean-up as great time for community and to get to reconnect with the family,” he said. “So that extends to our children.”  

Burtka says the family prides themselves on sharing meals, and using it as a time to talk about their days and process their feelings together. “That’s how I think you learn human behavior, and how you learn to communicate.”

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Cooking for—and with—their kids

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka at the dinner table with their son and daughtercourtesy HelloFresh

Their family lives at an East Hampton estate they call Funhouse Farm, where Burtka keeps a garden that provides fresh produce. From throwing together a salad with just-picked veggies to creating build-your-own poke bowls together (and especially enjoying Burtka’s homemade bolognese—a family favorite), they treat mealtime as an opportunity to bring the gang together. “I think teaching your kids new skill sets is always important as they’re growing, and there’s so much that can be learned in the kitchen in creating a meal,” Harris said. 

Burtka agreed. “I talk about this quite a bit in my book: have a list of things that they could possibly do, whether it’s break down herbs or stir something in or have them pound down chicken breasts. Just giving them things and having them hang out with you is great, so they can see where the food is coming from and where it goes.”

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All things in moderation

When it comes to nutrition, the name of the game in the Burtka-Harris house is moderation. They say they “eat the rainbow,” making sure everyone’s plates are covered in colors and encouraging their kids to try different veggies and proteins. But, as Burtka says, “You’ve got to live life a little bit. It’s all good to have a well-rounded life.”

“I think being obsessive about health in your diet tends to be detrimental,” Harris chimed in, “because subconsciously you just desire the things you can’t have even more.”

Harris added that rather than looking at sugar content or calories, he focuses on how fresh food is. “Eating things that are locally sourced or that aren’t just straight out of a freezer or a can is gonna give you more nutrients,” he told The Healthy. “When you look at the way the rest of the world eats, you know, they’re able to have a lot of food not in the refrigerator for a reason.”

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Staying healthy when work is full-on

Hydration is also key, Harris says, especially when he’s performing on Broadway. Before a performance he avoids sugar so he won’t crash, and instead of a big meal he likes to graze throughout the day—a little bit at breakfast, a handful of almonds here or there, half of a sandwich—to stay satisfied without getting too full. 

For Burtka, “I always felt like the biggest thing for working on Broadway was sleep,” he said. “It’s so demanding on your body and your mind that you have to take care of it.” Read Here’s How Long the Best Nap Lasts, a Neuroscientist Says

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Miranda Manier
Miranda is the Associate Editor for TheHealthy.com and The Healthy section of Reader's Digest magazine. Previously, Miranda was a producer at WNIT, the PBS affiliate in South Bend, Indiana; and the producer in residence for Minneapolis TV news KARE 11, where she won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for producing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial. Miranda also interned at Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, and worked as the managing editor at the Columbia Chronicle at Columbia College. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys acting, board games, and trying her hand at a good vegan dessert recipe. She also loves talking about TV—so tell her what you’re watching!