I know lots of families say cereal or a sandwich or whatever the kid could get themselves, but we got burnt out on even that idea going on at our house, when my kids were similar in age to yours. We had a series of conversations about food, food as fuel and food as fun, and talked about how you *don't* have to like everything you eat...for instance, my DH does not like rice (which baffles me, but whatever :lol:), but when I make a dish with rice in it, he eats it. Or, he makes chili totally different than I do and I like mine a lot better, but when he makes it, I eat it. We have plenty of opportunities to have foods we love throughout the week, so that when foods we're not crazy about come along, we just eat them anyway because they are good for us in a well rounded diet. The kids each get to choose their breakfast and lunch, and each kid gets to plan one dinner a week. The other 5 dinners are DH and my choice (keeping in mind everyone's preferences), and it's eat what's there, eat what's there as a snack before bed, or wait until morning (because not eating dinner then having a yogurt before bedtime is a pretty good trick, dontcha think? ;) ). My kids have no sensory issues, and will not starve themselves or make themselves sick, so this is a pretty straightforward thing for us - I understand other people have issues to contend with, but for us it was just pickiness, basically created by us over a long period of time. There is always at least one item they like on the table, even if it's just the salad; but that's the only option, there is no getting up from the table to get something else. The only time now we make the kids separate items is when it's something they find truly objectionable (they both nearly gag when they see casserole/stew/soup consistency foods and it's a texture/flavor blend thing I totally get, so those we don't push - we'll give them maybe one or two bites of it and then something else they do enjoy, so we're slowly working them into it).
I think, *for kids that don't have actual medical/sensory reasons to reject things*, it's kind of an entitlement kind of thing to get to make yourself a separate meal from everyone else just because you don't want what's being served....it's a real privilege to be able to do that, and it makes me feel kind of squicky. I understand everyone has things they truly, truly do not like and that's fine, and we meal plan around that (for instance, DH and I cannot stand seafood so we don't have it in the house - we keep trying it a couple times a year, but none of us like it at all) - but largely, not being "in the mood" or "not liking" something isn't enough of a reason to not eat it, to me. Having a few things you really can't stand eating is one thing; wanting a sandwich 4 nights a week because you "don't like" dinner is completely another IMO.
I imagine if I put out the "if you don't want this, you can make yourself something else" my kids would live on the same 4 or 5 foods, and then wouldn't have started liking all the wonderful things they truly do like now. Sometimes, giving a gentle but firm nudge past comfort zones really does work out well.
*** When we started this "this is what's for dinner, take it or leave it" thing after a few days of conversations/prep, I started slow and easy - like, 2 bites of the things they weren't used to on their plates and plenty of stuff they did like. Then I just worked the "new" stuff up and brought the old reliables back so that the portion sizes of each were reasonable. For us it was mostly veggies that were the problem, and we slowly worked from 2-4-6-8 bites to normal serving sizes for both of them. We don't usually have a problem with meats or starches in this house (though DS isn't crazy about mashed potatoes, likely a consistency thing, he still eats a small portion of them usually together with whatever meat we're having). I had to teach the kids basically to pick around whatever it is they didn't like, a skill I developed apparently on my own as a kid - I could leave a pile of diced sauteed onions on my plate after a meal that would amaze my mom, they were all rooted out and I'd eat everything except those onions in a neat little pile to the side.