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Chicken Dinner Planner

Use this Excel chicken dinner planner when you're making the Julia Child roast chicken recipe. Enter your meal time and the chicken weight. The planner shows the start and end time for each step

steps with start times

Chicken Dinner Planner

About once a month, I make a roast chicken dinner, using Julia Child's Roast Chicken recipe. It always turns out beautifully, and the cooking time is based on a formula. There is a base cooking time of 45 minutes, plus 7 minutes per pound.

To make it easier to calculate the cooking times, I've created this Excel Chicken Dinner Planner that you can download.

Just enter the meal time and chicken weight, and let Excel calculate the time to start each step. Or, use the interactive Excel file below, if your browser supports that feature.

NOTE: If you don't have a copy of Julia Child's cookbook - Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol. 1) - there is an online recipe that you can follow, on the Nom Nom Paleo site.

Enter the Meal Time

The first step is to enter the time when you want to have your chicken dinner.

  1. Go to the DinnerPlan sheet, and type a meal time in cell F3.

enter the meal time

Enter the Weight

Next, choose a measurement type from the drop down list in cell F4.

select measurement type

  • Cell F4 has been named -- UnitSel
  • The drop down list was created with Data Validation
  • The units (lbs and kgs), are listed in a named range (Units), on the Calcs sheet

Then, type the chicken's weight in cell F5, as a decimal number.

enter the weight


Steps with Start Times

After you enter the meal information in the 3 green cells on the DinnerPlan sheet, Excel shows the steps with their start times.

steps with start times

Print the Steps

After the 3 green cells at the top have been filled in, Excel calculates the start time for each step.

Then, you can print the steps schedule, and take it to the kitchen.

First, though, you can hide the 3 columns at the right - columns G, H and I. They have calculations, and don't need to be printed

hide columns before printing

Chicken Planner Calculations

You don't need to know how the step time calculations work -- you can just fill in the green cells, and print your schedule. But, if you're interested in how the Chicken Dinner Planner works, this section explains:

Cook Time Calculations

To calculate the cooking times, there are formulas on the Calcs sheet. These are based on Julia Child's formula -- a base cooking time of 45 minutes, plus 7 minutes per pound.

cooking time calculations

  1. The base time is intered in cell C7
  2. The minutes per pound is entered in cell E8
  3. In cell D8, a formula converts a kilogram weight to pounds, if necessary, or uses the weight that was entered as pounds.
    • =IF(UnitSel="kgs",CONVERT(Weight,"kg","lbm"),Weight)
  4. In cell C8, a formula multiplies the pounds by the minutes per pound, to get the extra cooking time:
    • =D8*E8
  5. In cell C9, the Total cooking time is calculated:
    • =C7+C8
  6. In cell C10, the minutes at 425° is typed. Julia Child says to cook the chicken at that temperature for 15 minutes.
  7. In cell C11, the minutes at 350° is calculated, by subtracting the 15 minutes from the total time. The CEILING function rounds up the result to the next minute
    • =CEILING(C9-C10,1)
  • The 350° cooking time is referenced on the DinnerPlan sheet, in cell F15.
  • All of the other minutes in the DinnerPlan "Minutes" column have been typed in, because they won't change.

cooking time at 350 degrees

Step Time Calculations

To calculate the start and end time for each step there are formulas on the DinnerPlan sheet.

  • All the times work backwards from the meal time that you entered in cell F3 (DinnerTime).
  • The calculations figure out when each step must end, in order to get the meal on the table by that Meal Time deadline.
  • Each start time (except the final one), is calculated from the step's end time.

First, in column G, there is a simple formula to convert the minutes to hours: =F10/60

End Cell Links

Next, in column I, a step number is typed in each row. This is the step number for the step that starts when the current step ends.

Some steps can be started before the previous step is completed, so this column gives us better control over the timing.

For example, we can start step #3 (heat oven to 425°) before step #2(bring to room temp) is completed. So, the End Cell Link for step 3 is "4" -- the lemon should go into the chicken after it is at room temperature.

In some cases, multiple steps have the same End Cell Link -- both step 3 and step for are linked to step 5.

  • The oven must be heated to 425°,
  • AND the lemon and butter must be added to the chicken,
  • before the "Cook at 425°" step can start.

End Cell Links

End Time

In column H, there is an INDEX and MATCH formula that gets the value from the Start cell that is entered in the End Cell Links cell.


INDIRECT formula for End Time

Start Time

In column B, the last Start Time, in cell B21, is linked to cell F3 (DinnerTime), where you entered your meal time.

Final cell linked to DinnerTime

Other Start Times

In all the other Start Time cells, a formula refers to the end time in that row, and subtracts the step's hours, divided by 24


For the "Bring to room temp" step,

  • it needs to end at 4:19 PM,
  • the step takes 1 hour.
  • The formula result is 3:19 PM.

End time minus hours

Try the Planner

If your browser supports it, try the Chicken Dinner planner in this embedded Excel workbook.

In the green cells at the top of the DinnerPlan sheet, enter your Meal Time, Measurement Unit and Weight, to see when each step starts.

Download the Workbook

Download a copy of the free Chicken Dinner Planner.

The zipped file is in xlsx format, and does not contain any macros.

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Excel Chicken Dinner Planner




Last updated: November 20, 2023 11:33 AM