I found this article in Parents Magazine online very helpful:
Bunny eats a fairly wide variety of foods. She'll eat any kind of meat, fish, or poultry. Deli, encased, patty, roasted, grilled, poached, whatever. She eats a modest variety of fruits and vegetables.
JD, on the other hand, is far pickier. So far this school year, he has taken a peanut butter (or almond butter) and jelly sandwich to school. It is accompanied by an apple, grapes, or banana. His lone vegetable is the carrot. He will eat processed meat but anything that isn't a hot dog, bologna, or salami must be breaded.
In general, he's not doing too bad. I know many families facing much more finicky eaters.
One thing that I believe contributes to the problem is modern food availability and distribution. How is that a problem?
Let's talk about the "olden days." You ate what you grew, preserved, or killed. Or you traded or bartered. The foods available were seasonal and local.
There was no pantry, no boxes of cookies or crackers, no frozen pizza on which people could fall back. A person could not eat strawberries, apples, carrots, or any other particular food all year round. Bread was baked. Crackers? Chips? Chocolate? Luxury items, if available at all. Dessert was a piece of fruit.
I am not going to try to tell you that everything about today is bad nor go over the benefits. You know what they are.
However, for any person living in a rural situation, what's on the table is the food to eat. No matter what it was. Eat or go hungry. (And, no Food Network or The Joy of Cooking to get recipes!) Perhaps that is part of the problem.
The article suggests that giving the child an eat-or-go-hungry ultimatum can lead to other problems. I get that. Sure, they may eventually eat. Is it a long-term solution?
Some of my favorite parts include giving the child or children a spoonful of each part of the adult meal on their plate. The child does not have to eat it and the parent should keep a neutral attitude, rather than saying how much the child will like the new food.
For my own self, the hard part is the suggestion that this food may have to be thrown out. I abhor waste. On the flip side, many gallons of unconsumed or befouled milk have gone down the drain. Many pounds of raw meat have been left too long and gone bad. Moldy bread and cheese. Stale chips and crackers. So a tablespoon of food here and there would not be the end of the world.
The next part is making a plan. Wife and I typically plan all of our dinners on Sunday night or Monday morning. Helps a lot with the week's shopping and general planning. What I have failed to do is plan the children's meals simultaneously. And, in general, I cook fairly complex things that kids are not expected to eat, though occasionally Bunny will try some. However, if I plan right and can make the kids something similar so that the incorporation of a couple of spoonfuls of invasive foods would not be so traumatic.
Will let you know how it goes!