This post probably won't win me many brownie points and I have been very hesitant to even write it, but several folks have told me that their kid (or spouse) is a picky eater and therefore they have no choice but to buy name brand foods because that's all their little dumpling will eat. I have also been asked countless times how we trained our kids in this area. So, here it is!
One of our more finicky friends states that he's not picky, he just has a refined palate. Ha. Call it what you will, it can run up a food bill in a heart beat. Obviously we all have foods we don't like. For me it's okra. Nasty slimy stuff that should never be consumed by humans and makes me gag when I try to swallow it. However, having said that, I would graciously eat it if you served it to me and would thank you for it.
It has been our experience that most little babies will eat about anything until somewhere around the age of 18 months to two years. All of a sudden, the green beans they had been eating with joy the day before ooze down the side of their face (or get spit into yours) and they start pointing at the applesauce. Happened with all 4 of mine and with countless other parents who have gone through our parenting classes. This is when the battle begins. But you really don't have to fight very hard, and you certainly don't want your kid to think it's a battle. It was at this point with our own kids, after a few consecutive tries with the food in question, that we wrapped up said food, put it in the fridge, made sure our little angel had had lots of water (no filling up on juice or milk) and then let them go on their merry way. No outward battle. (We did try that a few times...it's never pretty and makes everyone else at the table uncomfortable.) An hour later when cutie-patootie came skipping back saying she was hungry, I would produce the offensive food, heat it up if needed, and set it before her. Our kids only held out 2 meals max. That may sound horribly mean, but it was quite effective. They learned to eat (not necessarily like) what was given them. As they grew older and I learned the foods that they truly didn't like, I never made them eat more than a bite or two. But if I heard them outwardly complaining/whining about the food--in my books a mortal sin--I have been known to put another spoonful on their plate. As most anyone with any maturity to them knows, tastes change over time. There were foods I hated as a kids that I love now. Coffee and olives come to mind. I never expected to teach my kids to like everything. What I did expect was an appreciation for the time and effort that went into preparing a meal and the maturity to eat things that they didn't necessarily like.
Now that our kids are older, I refuse to be a short-order cook in my own home. I make the meal. If you don't like it, you don't feel good, or you're just not hungry, you can pass. No dessert, no other food. You can eat with us the next meal. Obviously, there are exceptions (esp if they are sick), but they are rare. I spend too much money on the food and too much time preparing it to tolerate a bad attitude.
My kids may tell you a different tale...but I doubt it. One time when my daughter was babysitting, I overheard her tell a kid that she wasn't going to make him something else just because he changed his mind after she had given him a clear choice (PBJ or mac n cheese, I believe it was). That would be a waste of food, she explained. The kid ate it without complaint. She related the story to me later and was apalled that the kid would even ask. Ahhhh, my dear, so much to learn...and you might want to make sure your future husband wasn't raised by a mama who was his own personal chef.