I like to pride myself on my provisioning abilities. I.e., I know how to plan, shop for, and cook quality meals at low cost. One of my primary techniques is to let the sale items in produce, the meat counter, and the deli direct my planning.
Another technique is to do some of the processing myself. I already have a great set of knives (thank you to my colleagues in the Special Order department at Marshall Field's for your generous wedding present!), so my policy on chicken is: buy them whole for $1.00/lb, cut them up myself, and find a way to cook every piece. (Though I haven't made schmaltz yet.)
These principles at times require fortitude. This week, Valli (the Platonic ideal of a grocery storeTM) had whole trout on sale. And asparagus. I quickly found a recipe that used these foundational ingredients and put them on the shopping list.
There I stood at the seafood counter, staring into the aghast expressions of the trout. $2.99/lb for the whole thing. But just a few feet over, at $5.99/lb, were the trout fillets. Hmm . . . fillets don't look back at you while you cut them up. And I've never really attempted to fillet a fish . . .
It was then I discovered that the price of my self-processing principle was about $2.00.