I have a very strict rule at our house.

If I make dinner and it’s so bad that not even I can eat it, then the kids DON’T have to finish what’s on their plate. I know it sounds tough, but that’s just how it is around here.

With my husband out of town the past few weeks my cooking habits have grown a little, well, let’s say, toastery. I mean, really. What’s the point of slaving for an hour over a healthy meal full of green veggies and baked goodness when I know I will then have to suffer as I watch the kids grimace and moan, begging for a frozen pizza.

So, most of our meals lately have involved syrup.

Pancakes. Mini pancakes. Homemade waffles. Ego waffles. French toast. And French toaster sticks. It’s quite the variety. I’m thinking of writing a cookbook, actually.

By last night, it seemed like we had syrup everywhere. On the table. The chairs. The homework folders. The spelling lists. All were syrupy.

And meat? After a meatless week, our skin was starting to look pale and thin.

“That’s it! I’m making dinner,” I decided.

So, I reached into the back of the cabinet and found the year-old box. Cheesy Chicken Noodle Bake by Campbell’s. It has cheese, chicken and noodles. All ingredients my children love separately. Why not bake them all together?

What came out of the oven was sort of a slimy, chickeny, cheesy mess.

The kids tried the chicken. They tasted the noodles. They did their best.

Then, my 4-year-old daughter looked at my with a shy grin.

“Thank you, Mommy. It’s not good.”

I agreed. Tonight, we’re going out for dinner.

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