Holiday Dinner Planner

Use this workbook to plan the timeline for holiday meal preparation. Enter the dinner time, then list the menu items and the time for each step. Print a timetable list, or a Gantt chart

Enter the Dinner Time

The first step is to select a dinner time. Go to the DinnerPlan sheet, and select a time from the drop down list in cell H2. The drop down list was created with Data Validation, and the times are in a table on the Lists sheet.

select dinner time

Add List Items (Optional)

There are meal items, time, cooking locations, and process lists, on the Lists sheet. You can add more items, if you need to. The lists are in named Excel tables, so they will expand automatically.

To add an item to one of the lists:

  1. Click in the blank cell below the last item in that list.
  2. Type the new item, and press Enter.
  3. Click on any item in the list, and click the arrow in the list heading
  4. Click Sort A toZ.

add items to lists

The Dinner Plan

Next, go to the DinnerPlan sheet, where you will enter all the preparation steps for each food that you'll serve, with the time required for each step.

You'll enter items in the green cells (instructions below).

enter preparation steps

There are hidden columns (I:N) that contain formulas.

print the dinner schedule

Enter the Meal Item Details

For each food item that is on your menu, enter all the preparation activities on the DinnerPlan sheet. Type in the green cells only-- the grey cells have formulas..

For example, there are 5 preparation steps for the Turkey -- prepare stuffing, stuff the turkey, cook the turkey, let the turkey stand a few minutes after cooking, and finally, carve the turkey.

It doesn't matter what order you enter the food items, because the list will be sorted later.

To enter the first activity, follow these steps:

  1. Click in cell C9, click the drop down arrow, and select Turkey.
  2. Press the Tab key, and in the Activity Number column, type 1
  3. Press Tab, and in the Activity column, type Prepare Stuffing.
  4. Press Tab, and in the Location column, click the drop down arrow, and select Stove
  5. Press Tab, and in the Minutes column, type the estimated number of minutes that step will take -- 30 minutes in this example. NOTE: For longer tasks, you can type the number of hours instead, such as 4.25 hours to cook the turkey.

Move down to the next row, and repeat those steps, to enter the other 4 preparation steps for the turkey, and the other meal items.

enter preparation steps

Sort the List

After all the preparation activities have been entered, follow these steps to sort the timetable.

  1. Select a cell in the Start Time column
  2. Sort the list, from smallest to largest.

sort the dinner plan by start time

Print the Schedule

After the meal items have been entered, and the list is sorted by Start Time, you can print the schedule. There are two options for printing:

  • PrintedPlan -- a printed list of preparation steps
  • TimeTable -- a Gantt chart with the schedule in visual form.

To go to either printout sheet, click the link in column O of the DinnerPlan sheet.

links to printout sheets

Print Plan

Here is the printed timeline, showing when the preparation has to get started, and all the steps for getting the meal ready.

links to printout sheets


Here is the dinner preparation schedule in a Gantt chart timeline.

gantt chart dinner timeline

Download the Workbook

1. Basic Planner: Download a copy of the free Excel Holiday Dinner Planner. The zipped file is in xlsx format, and does not contain any macros.

2. With Recipe Finder: Download a copy of the free Excel Holiday Dinner Planner and Recipe Finder. The zipped file is in xlsmx format, and contains macros and connections for the recipe finder.

3. Excel 2003: Download a copy of the free Excel Holiday Dinner Planner and Recipe Finder for Excel 2003. The zipped file is in xls format, and contains macros and connections for the recipe finder.

Related Links

Data Validation

Sort a List

Christmas Planner

Weekly Meal Planner

Search Contextures Sites


Excel Tools Add-in


Free Pivot Table Tools



excel chart tools by peltier tech




Excel Data Entry Popup List



Last updated: October 2, 2016 2:51 PM
Contextures RSS Feed