Prepared foods counter = cheap dinner
We love Chipotle. That's not a secret. But while no one blinks at dropping $8-10 on a burrito, very few people think of Whole Foods as a place to get an entire meal. No, not the salad bar. I'm talking about meal deals -- ones that are different dependent on where you live, but often provide the best value. Head for the display case where they keep all the freshly made grain salads, chicken cutlets, and themed foods for the holidays.
Plenty of regions offer an entree (chicken, salmon, tofu) and two sides (like a black bean/quinoa salad or a vegetable) for between $8-11. The Midwest has a “Health Starts Here” bowl with greens, beans, grains, and a protein for about $8. Pasta bowls are also about $8. Here in the Mountain region, there's a location that cooks Asian dishes. They allow you to pick your own veggies from the bar and then have them stir-fried. Unless your bowl weighs 5lbs, they'll cook up whatever you put in that bowl all for a flat price. You can get two meals out of one bowl, easy. And usually for not more than $8.
Make the butcher do the work for you
No need to ever break down a chicken -- the butcher will do that. See a recipe that requires tying up a pork loin roast -- the butcher will do that. Need some help paying off your student loans? The butcher probably can't help with that (he's got two kids of his own!), but he can pound the hell out of a chicken breast. Make chicken Milanese with that sucker and you'll feel like you're eating more chicken than you actually are.
Save mad loot by buying stuff on certain days
Wednesdays are when the new sales for the coming week are announced. Follow them on Facebook/Instagram and bookmark this Sales Flyer page to see deals specific to the store you shop at most frequently. Friday, for example, is a good day to visit for the deepest discounts on meat or seafood. Often, each store has a different deal every day of the week -- Monday means pizza is cheaper, Tuesday could be baked goods. Locations near me do a $6 rotisserie chicken deal on Wednesdays, which I turn into four or five meals.