The nice thing about living in a small town is that you know a lot of people and can stop in unannounced to friend's houses just for the heck of it. When you do, it is important not to notice the dishes in the sink, the dust bunnies peeking out from underneath the couch, or the lack of freshly baked brownies.
So I stopped in to a friend's house the other day, and her kitchen cabinets happen to be open. There, in plain view, I noticed something that should exist in no one's cupboards: a bottle of "pancake syrup." I have deal with this friend: if I notice something amiss in her kitchen, if I detect that she is about to serve hot tea made from Lipton tea bags from water microwaved in a pyrex measuring dish, i will tell her.
So of course, out of the love I have for her, I said, "What the hell is that crap in your cupboard?" She replied, "But June, real maple syrup is $20.00 a quart! And my kids can't tell the difference!"
This begs the question: Is saving mone worth cutting corners on quality?
I think we all know the answer. Never. Not ever.
Real maple syrup bears no relation to the crappy, high fructose corn syrup imitation stuff trying to pass itself off as maple syrup.
And so it goes with all ingredients. Cheese in a can is no substitute for real parmesan. Pure olive oil is not the same as extra virgin.
Do your kids a favor: give them real food instead of imitation. Cook them fresh food instead of heating ujp frozen chicken nuggets. They will be less picky eaters and grow up to love a wide variety of real foods. They will be healthier for it.