By Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Officer

The most basic rules of etiquette are clear- you should not use your mobile phone during a Thanksgiving meal. The rules would also state that you should not use your phone while spending time with family before and after the meal. Admittedly, that second one is a little tougher to follow, especially if you have family members with whom you only interact on this single holiday each year and you are not good at chatting about the football game on TV.

However, there is one use of a cell phone that is not only appropriate, but will also significantly improve Thanksgiving or any holiday that involves a large, home-cooked meal. Using it to access one or more of the many planning and recipe apps to help plan and prepare what, for some people, can be an overwhelming feast.

A few years ago I used a popular note-taking app to list out everything I needed to do to host a large Thanksgiving dinner including my annual menu, shopping list, favorite recipes, and even simple tips/reminders that help make the day flow smoothly and less stressful. Then each year, while eating leftovers the following day, I tweak my notes with improvements or lessons learned. Now there are no loudmouth family members complaining because I didn’t make their favorite dish. I have also fine tuned my timing so that all the food is ready more or less at the same time by simply counting back from the scheduled meal time to when I should begin preparing each individual menu item.

There are a number of recipe apps, note taking apps, and posting boards to choose from. I prefer a note taking app because it allows the most flexibility. As a novice cook, I recommend you try a couple until you find one that works for you. I also offer the following tips and menu from my own notes to help you get started.

Annual Thanksgiving Menu

  • Turkey
  • Mom’s Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Susanna’s Baked Yams
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Green Beans
  • Asparagus
  • Corn – frozen
  • Mom’s Cranberry Salad
  • GrandMa’s Graham Cracker Chocolate & French Vanilla Pudding Cake
  • Rolls
  • Gravy
  • Wine
    • Red – Zinfandel
    • White – Chardonnay

Tips & Reminders

  • Keep the traditions – cook what keeps and passes on memories even if they are a bit hard. One person’s favorite dish makes their holiday more special.
  • Go grocery shopping on Sunday to be completely prepared ahead of time and avoid the rush on Wednesday and allow turkey time to thaw.
  • If serving more items than you have room for on the stove, then use a steamer to cook the veggies. By simply adding lemon juice and Poultry Seasoning in the water then tossing them in olive oil with garlic salt you save time and they taste great.
  • Stuffing tastes better with stale bread – remember to rip open a loaf and leave it out on Wednesday night.
  • Turkey
  • Buy on Sunday and allow to thaw in refrigerator until Tuesday night
    • Brine Tuesday night until Wednesday night or Thursday morning depending on meal time.
    • Remove from brine Wednesday night or first thing Thursday morning, pat dry and place back in refrigerator to dry
    • After it is stuffed, season the top with chopped, fresh poultry herbs/seasoning and then spray with Olive Oil Pam to lubricate the bird