## Excel Timetable for Your Holiday Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving, if you’re celebrating today! Our Canadian Thanksgiving was last month, so I don’t have to worry about organizing a big dinner today.
If you’re responsible for getting the family meal on the table today, you can use my Excel Holiday Dinner Planner.

Yes, it takes a few minutes to set up, by entering all the food items, and the preparation steps, but it will be worth the effort! You probably don't vary the holiday menu too much, so you can reuse the worksheet, year after year.

### Calculate the Start Time

After you enter all the dinner items, go to the top of the worksheet, and select the time that you want to serve dinner. Automatically, the Excel dinner planner calculates the preparation start time for each item.

With the planner, you'll have a complete list of dinner items, with preparation start and end times. Follow the list, and you won't be likely to forget those dinner rolls in the oven, or leave the cranberry sauce in the fridge.
You can print a list, or a Gantt chart version, to show the preparation schedule.

You can find more instructions, and download links, on the Excel Holiday Dinner Planner page on the Contextures website.

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## Track Weight and Nutrients With Excel

Happy New Year! I took a couple of weeks off, and I hope that you had some time to relax too. Now, it’s a new year, and time to get back to work.
It’s tough work staring at your computer all day, so maybe you’ve decided to set a couple of health goals for 2013. I’m getting out for a walk every morning, which is a great way to start the day. It’s good exercise, and all that fresh air helps my brain get going too!
If you’re looking for help with keeping track of calories, or weight loss, you can download a couple of free files from my Contextures website, to make things easier.

### Calorie Counting

For calorie counting, try my Excel Recipe Nutrients Calculator.  It’s on the Excel Sample Files page, in the User Forms section: UF0016 - Excel Calorie Counter With Recipe Calculator.
For instruction on how to use the calculator, see this blog post: Excel Recipe Nutrients Calculator

### Weight Tracking

For weight tracking, try my Weight Loss Tracker. You can choose either pounds or kilos as the weight measurement, and enter your targets and daily data. There is also a version for Stone and pounds, if you prefer that system.

You can see the instructions, and download the sample file here: Excel Weight Loss Tracker
Good luck, and try to get away from your computer a few times a day!
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## Excel Budget Template

Are you still working on your budget for next year? I've just updated my budget template, and added a page on my website, to describe how it works.

The old version was created in 2002, so it was definitely time for an update! This is a simple budget layout, but might give you some ideas for working on your own workbook.

There is a menu sheet at the front of the workbook, with two named cells – Location and Start Date. The information that you enter in those cells is used on the other sheets in the workbook.

There are four navigation buttons, to take you to the data entry sheets and the report sheets. And those sheets have a Menu button, to bring you back to the menu sheet.

### Data Entry Sheets

When you're in the planning phase, you can enter your budget categories and forecasts on the Forecast sheet.

Later, when you have Actual numbers, you can enter those on the Actual worksheet.

### Year To Date Reports

To see how things are going, you can check the Year to Date report, which shows the Actual amounts, up to the current month, and Forecast amounts for the remaining months.

Conditional formatting colours the columns with Actual data, to it's easy to see where it's been entered.

### Variance Report

The final report shows the variance between the forecast amounts and the actual amounts. Again, conditional formatting colours the columns with Actual data.

To see the details, and to download the sample file, please visit the Forecast vs Actual  - Variance page on my Contextures website. The file is in Excel 2007 / 2010 format, and contains macros.

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## Use Excel to Plan Christmas

Mock if you will, but every year I use my Excel Christmas planner to keep track of things over the holiday season.

I make a few tweaks to the planner every year, and in this year's version there is a column to note where you hid a present, after you've brought it home. That should prevent those Christmas Eve panics, while you try to find everything. Not that I've ever gone through that – I'm only thinking of you! 😉

### Black Friday Planning

This year, the stores are even advertising Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in Canada, so I'll be able to use the Black Friday planning sheet, to find a few bargains.

Based on the prices that you enter, the worksheet calculates which store has the best price for each item, and which store has the most deals. Note: If prices are the same at multiple stores, the first store will be shown in the "Best Price" column.

To download the file, you can visit the Excel Christmas Planner page on my Contextures website. Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck finding those awesome sales tomorrow and Monday!

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## Do You Excel in the Kitchen?

These days, I don't have to cook too often, but company is coming tonight. So, I dug out a slow cooker recipe, and got ready to brown the meat.

Of course, I didn't want to end up with oil spattered all over my work clothes (shorts and a t-shirt), so I grabbed the apron that my daughter made for me. As you can see in the picture below, this is proof that I'm an EXCEL-lent cook, but not very good at ironing.

### Excel Meal Planner

If you want to Excel in the kitchen, but don't have a fancy apron like this one, you can use my Excel meal planner. It includes a recipe selector tool, thanks to Jimmy Peña, so you can search the web for recipes. Then, pick your meals for the week, and print the shopping list for those meals.

For special occasions, like Canada Day, or July 4th, you can use the Excel holiday dinner planner to organize a meal for a large group, or a fancy dinner for friends. How long does it take to barbeque a package of hot dogs, and defrost an apple pie?

And in case you were wondering, here is the dinner that I was browning, when I had to grab that apron. It smells great, as it simmers in the slow cooker, so I hope the company enjoys it.

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## Updated Excel Weight Loss Tracker

You know how tough it can be to maintain two versions of the same file. It creates twice as much work for you, and no extra rewards! So, instead of having two versions of the Excel weight loss tracker – pounds and kilograms – I've rolled them into one workbook. For now, there is a separate file for the stone measurements, because it has a different layout on the data entry sheet. If possible, I'll roll that version in later.

Monday, October 17th, was Spreadsheet Day, and I hope you've recovered from all the festivities.
Thanks to everyone who tweeted about Spreadsheet Day, and a special thanks to those who made a Spreadsheet Day post on their blog. In case you missed any of the posts, here's a list. If I omitted yours, please let me know.

### Plan and Track Student Spending

Pivot tables summarize the key information in this student budget workbook, from Bob Ryan, of Simply Learning Excel.

### Student Time Tracker

Keep tabs on class times and assignment workload, with my Student Time Tracker. Then, when you become a Microsoft Office consultant, you can use the same technique to track meetings and project work.

A lesson in the perils of gambling, from Mike Alexander, of Bacon Bits blog. Using a spreadsheet to track your gambling losses doesn't lessen the pain.

### Automating Class Creation

Students attend classes, so Dick Kusleika, from Daily Dose of Excel, shows his technique for automating class creation in Excel VBA. The video demo is silent, so you can play the music of your choice, or add your own voice over.

### Experiment With Excel

You don't need extravagant plans to celebrate Spreadsheet Day. To quote The Science Goddess, "So, my advice for today is simply to go forth and double-click. Open Excel and play around."

### Celebrate Responsibly

Finally, wise words from Excel guru, and party pooper, John Walkenbach – celebrate Spreadsheet Day responsibly.
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