Monthly Archives: November 2015

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

Are you hosting Thanksgiving at your home this year?  If so, you’ll want to start planning for this special day.  We’re here to help, with some easy steps to follow, a guest tracker and sample menu.  So let’s get planning.

What is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving is a holiday held on the 4th Thursday in November in the United States.  It is a day to gather with family and friends and give thanks for what we have, in particular the plentiful harvest at this time of year.

Thankgsiving Dinner Table

Planning Your Thanksgiving Meal

Step 1:  Set the date, time and location.

For this example, we will invite our guests to arrive at 11:45 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Some larger families may choose to hold this event later in the day or on another day over the long weekend.

Note: We know that some guests will arrive a little earlier, and some will run late. Therefore, we expect the overall arrive time between 11:30 – 12:00.

Our social hour is planned for 11:30 – 12:30.  We will plan to sit down to eat at 12:30.

Step 2:  Plan the menu.

Fill out the Thanksgiving Day Menu to determine what you would like to serve.  Ours will be a traditional meal, with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and butternut squash.

Be sure to check out our Thanksgiving Dinner Planner.  You can view a sample menu below.  Just click on the link to open and print.

Thanksgiving Dinner Sample Menu

Thanksgiving Dinner – Sample Menu

We’ve also included a blank printable page so that you can fill out one for your dinner:

Thanksgiving Dinner Blank Menu Planner

Thanksgiving Dinner – Blank Menu

Step 3:  Invite Guests and track RSVPs

Use our printable guest tracker to make sure you’ve included everyone.  Be sure to keep a phone number or email address handy, in case you need to contact them.

Guest Tracker

Guest Tracker

Since this is a large event, be prepared for people to offer to bring a dish.  Lots of hands make for an easy day, so allow your guests to bring a dish.  You can ask guests to bring something from your menu, or just add the dish to your planner.  We usually add their dish to our Thanksgiving Dinner Planner, and write their name in parenthesis.

For example:  Pumpkin Pie (Mom)             Centerpiece (Aunt Jane)

Step 4:  Clean home and set up for Thanksgiving

Do as much cleaning as you can ahead of time.  It’s great if you can vacuum, dust, mop the floors, and finish your laundry earlier that week.

You’ll want to reserve the 2-3 days before Thanksgiving to complete your grocery shopping, decorate, and prepare the food.

 Step 5: Shop for supplies

Some of the non-perishable or frozen items can be purchased ahead of time.  We usually buy our fresh turkey the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Plan to do your grocery shopping two days before Thanksgiving, so that the fruit and vegetables are fresh.

We’ve included a Thanksgiving Day Grocery Shopping List to help you with this large task.  It’s organized by department to make shopping easier and more efficient.

Thanksgiving Grocery List

Thanksgiving Grocery List

Step 6: Cooking Timeline

Lastly, you will want to set up a tentative cooking schedule.  Thanksgiving dinner requires quite a bit of coordination.  You’ll want to make sure the turkey is cooked, and the mashed potatoes are hot.  Here’s our Sample Cooking Timeline:

Thanksgiving Sample Cooking Timeline

Thanksgiving Sample Cooking Timeline

We hope that our menus, guest tracker and cooking timeline help you host a fantastic Thanksgiving Dinner.

You may find the following article from our website helpful:

printable grocery list by department

Grocery Shopping List by Department

How much does your breakfast cost?

If you could use some extra money in your wallet, start with a quick calculation of your breakfast costs.  Knowing what you eat and how much you pay can save you money.  Whether it’s buying your food on sale, or changing some of the foods you eat, there is certainly room for improvement.  Let’s get started.

A couple of years ago, I was watching a tv show about financial matters.  A person called in to discuss her money issues.  She was really trying to save money, and at one point asked the host of the tv show how much she should spend on breakfast.  The host had no idea, and could not even speculate.  Meanwhile, I had the answer.  It was $0.20.  My breakfast cost $0.20.

How did I know this?  At the time, I ate instant oatmeal, purchased on sale for $2.00 a box.  There were 10 servings in the box, so that amounted to $0.20.

So let’s take a look at the cost of some breakfast items:

Product Total Cost Quantity Per Unit Monthly Cost Annual Cost
(Per Unit *30) (Per Unit *365)
Bananas   (Costco) 1.39 7 0.20 6.00 73.00
Canteloupe 1.50 3 0.50 15.00 182.50
Cheerios (Costco) 5.69 40 0.14 4.20 51.10
Cheerios (on sale) 2.99 8 0.37 11.10 135.05
Coffee –   Starbucks 9.50 25 0.38 11.40 138.70
English   muffins 3.39 6 0.57 17.10 208.05
English   muffins on sale 3.39 12 0.28 8.40 102.20
Instant   Oatmeal 4.00 10 0.40 12.00 146.00
Instant   Oatmeal (store brand) 2.00 10 0.20 6.00 73.00
Milk (1   Gallon; 2%) 4.29 32 (1/2 cups) 0.13 3.90 47.45
Milk   (1/2 Gallon; organic) 3.69 16 (1/2 cups) 0.23 6.90 83.95
Orange   Juice (8 oz) 3.00 8 0.38 11.40 138.70
Raspberries 3.99 4 1.00 30.00 365.00
Slice of Toast – Bread on sale 2.50 20 0.13 3.90 47.45
Whole   wheat all natural 3.99 16 0.25 7.50 91.25

As you can see from just this simple list, prices can vary.  It pays to be a smart shopper.  For example, buying a small box of Cheerios for breakfast each day will cost you $135 per year.  However, if you bought it on sale or in bulk, it’s only $51 per year.  That a savings of $84 per year.

Note: You’ll want to pay attention to the Per Unit cost in the middle column.  This tells you how much it will cost to eat one item.  For example, one bowl of cereal is $0.37.  One English muffin is $0.57.  A glass of orange juice is $0.38.  A cup of coffee also averages $0.38, although this depends on how you make it.  Let’s look at some breakfast meals.

Sample Breakfast Menus

Of course you aren’t going to eat the same food every single day for a year.  So, what’s important to know is the price per serving of each item.  Here are three possible breakfast menus:

Instant Oatmeal, Canteloupe and Orange Juice

  • Instant Oatmeal – store brand ($0.20)
  • Canteloupe ($0.50)
  • Glass of Orange Juice ($0.38)
      • Total Cost: $1.08
      • Total Monthly Cost: $32.40
      • Total Annual Cost: $394.20

 Cereal, Milk, Raspberries and Coffee

  • Bowl of Cereal – at warehouse price ($0.14)
  • 2% Milk – 1/2 cup ($0.13)
  • Raspberries ($1.00)
  • Coffee ($0.38)
  • Total Cost: $1.65
  • Total Monthly Cost: $49.50
  • Total Annual Cost: $602.25

 Toast, Orange Juice and Banana

    • Toast – 2 slices ($0.26)
  • Glass of Orange juice ($0.38)
  • Banana ($0.20)
  • Total Cost: $0.84
  • Total Monthly Cost: $25.20
  • Total Annual Cost: $306.60

Calculate Your Own Cost of Breakfast

If you’re trying to save money, you’ll want to take a look at your food expenses. Print our Cost of Breakfast Worksheet.

Cost of Breakfast Chart

Cost of Breakfast

Write down a few items that you typically eat, and the price.  Use the labels on the food to determine how many servings each item contains.  Follow the worksheet to calculate the monthly and annual costs of eating each food.

How does your breakfast stack up?  Are there any changes you can make to cut your costs?

Hopefully, this will help you save some money.  Or at least raise your awareness of the price of breakfast.  And I haven’t even tackled breakfast at the drive-up. 🙂

Here are some additional articles you may want to read:

Setting Up a Pantry

The Importance of Weekly Meal Planning

Grocery List by Department – Make Grocery Shopping Easy and Efficient

Monthly Expense Tracker: It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend


Science Fair Project Tornadoes

Science Fair Project: Tornadoes

Part of running a household involves helping the children with school assignments.  We recently pulled together a project for a science fair.  Here are the details on how we gathered the information and organized our science fair project: tornadoes.

Science Fair Project: Tornadoes

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost, but Running A Household will receive a commission.

Finding a topic for a science fair

We really thought it was important to let our child take the lead on the topic.  It needed to be something he was interested in, and wanted to learn more about.

Our son has always been interested in the weather.  In June 2011, a tornado came through Western Massachusetts.  It brought down trees in Westfield, damaged houses in West Springfield, and made a destructive path through the cities of Springfield, Wilbraham and Monson.  Our son saw some of the tornado aftermath, since the areas were bare for years.  He was very involved, since we made a gift basket to help a family who lost everything, including their toys.

Researching a topic for a science fair

There were several resources which we found helpful when researching tornadoes:

Books – We read several books and each one gave us interesting information:

Websites: The following websites were very helpful for researching tornadoes.

Videos: We actually found several videos on YouTube which showed the different strengths of tornadoes.

Documenting information for science fair

Did you know there is a specific format to document your research and findings for a science fair?  We followed the steps outlined on

The most complicated part was deciding on the question to research.  Our son knew he wanted to make a tornado demonstration, and use legos to show the damage tornadoes can cause.  Therefore, we decided to research the question:

“How does a tornado move things?”

Since our son was only in second grade, we simplified some of the sections.  We followed the general format for reporting.  We drafted the information by talking with our son, and writing down what he said.  Then we put the information into a Powerpoint presentation with pictures.

To see our presentation slides, click on the link below:

Tornado Science Fair Slides

Science Fair – Tornadoes

Organizing a display for a science fair

We opted to use the following materials to explain our research:

  1. Powerpoint Slides
  2. Display Board: We printed the slides, and glued them to the Elmer’s Tri-Fold Premium Foam Display Board, Black, 36×48 Inch. We opted for this size because it could display all of our information. It was also manageable to carry in to school on the day of the project.
  3. Tape Runner: The extra sticky glue stick did not seem to hold our paper to the display board.  Since we do a lot of scrapbooking, we opted to use our Fiscar’s Tape Runner.  It is a small orange tool that holds double-sided tape.  It worked like a charm, and held the paper in place. Unfortunately, the Fiscar’s brand is no longer for sale, however, 3L makes a similar product called an E-Z runner. You can check out the details here: E-Z Runner Adhesive Dispenser
    Fiskars paper trimmer
  4. Legos: We demonstrated the different strengths of a tornado based on the Fujita scale.  Our son was fascinated by this scale, and used his legos to show the destruction from an EF-0.  We took a picture of it, and then he increased the damage by using his legos to create the devastation from an EF-1.  Again we took a picture.  He continued to model each level from EF-0 to EF-5.
  5. Tornado in a jar:  To show the circular motion of a tornado, and how the force picks up objects, we created a tornado in a jar.

Pictures from our Science Fair Project: Tornadoes

The final display board was set up on a table at the science fair.

Science Fair Display

Here’s a close up of our tornado in a jar, which was on display at the science fair.

Science Fair Tornado in a Jar

We started by placing three small beads and some water in a mason jar.  When we swirled the water, the tornado was hard to see.  We added some green food coloring, and it was much easier to see the tornado in the jar.  So we moved the jar counter-clock-wise, and soon the power of the water picked up the small beads.

Here’s one of the lego displays.  This one is an EF-3 on the Fujita Scale.  Our son even added some of his Thomas trains boxcars to show the tornado damage.

Tornado science fair EF-5 Fujita Scale with legos

There was a special slide on the presentation board.  It showed all of the levels of the Fujita Scale, from EF-0 to EF-5, along with a picture of his lego displays.  Click on the link below to see a larger view of our slide.

Tornado Enhanced Fujita Scale with Legos

Enhanced Fujita Scale with Legos

Next Steps

For more ideas about science fairs, as well as Running A Household, be sure to follow us on Pinterest:  Click here

You may also enjoy the following articles from our website:

How to Organize and Display Your Science Fair Project

How to Organize and Display Your Science Fair Project

how to organize crayons

How to organize crayons

how to organize markers

How to organize markers

how to organize child's desk

Organizing A Child’s Desk

Need more organizing ideas?  Check out: Toolbox: Organization

Happy Organizing!

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