Meat, no matter what kind, is very expensive relative to other foods. There are also health concerns that we all should consider when eating meat, such as cholesterol and hormone and antibiotic residues. Many also have moral reservations about eating certain meats such as veal. For my family, a very easy solution to the issues of cost, health and morality is eating wild meat, also known as game. This takes the form of deer (also called venison) for us because my husband's brother is a deer hunter and shares generously with us.
I've encountered many times the aversion, even horror that some people have to eating "Bambi" and I think, quite frankly, that it's silly. Just because an animal is "cute" doesn't mean that it's somehow wrong to eat it. Calves are cute, as are lambs, yet both these are eaten by many Amercians despite the horrific and cruel conditions that they are raised in. Chickens are also raised in cruel and overcrowded conditions. All animals raised for meat are dosed with hormones to increase muscle mass and speed the time till slaughter. Large amounts of antibiotics are given routinely to commercially raised meat animals to prevent the illnesses that come from living in such overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Feed for meat animals contains extra protein in the form of meat by-products, usually from their own species (this is practice is what spreads mad-cow disease).
Deer on the other hand are wild animals living the way God intended them to live. No hormones, no antibiotics, no feed laced with the meat byproducts of their own species. God gave us creation to take care of, and to use responsibly. Hunting is just another aspect of responsible use of our world. The death of a deer by a bullet or arrow is no worse (and maybe even less painful) than the death it will otherwise have from disease or a predator.
If you are lucky enough to have a hunter in your family, or know one, then you may have a free meat source. It is always polite to offer some kind of exchange though. If you don't know any hunters, then try this tip I read in the Tightwad Gazette: locate a butcher or meat processor that handles game meats and ask them if you can buy any deer or other game that wasn't picked up. Hunters will take their deer or whatever, to be processed, but then not come back to pick it up. Since this meat can't be sold, the butcher will just charge you the processing fee. This method has an advantage in that the meat is already cut in to stew pieces, chops, etc. and is wrapped and frozen already too.
Before cooking venison you should soak it in salt water overnight. This helps get out some of the gamey taste. If there is alot of blood in the water after soaking you should soak the meat another night in fresh salt water. There are many ways to serve venison to disguise the flavor if you don't care for it. Stew is the easiest and my family's favorite. It allows me to make large amounts by adding more vegetables rather than meat, which makes the dish even more inexpensive. Just follow your favorite beef stew recipie and substitute the venison for the beef.
Quail, pheasant and other game birds can generally be cooked just like chicken. Fried quail is a particular favorite of mine from childhood because my father hunted quail. A pot pie is a good option if you think your family might object to a different flavor. Like stews, the combination of ingredients disguises the slight taste difference. Rabbit and squirrel are good fried also, as well as in a stew. For other recipie ideas look in the Fannie Farmer cookbook or the Joy of Cooking, both of which have sections with game recipies. You can also type in the type of game you want recipies for in the search box below. The Southern U.S. Cuisine site has alot of game recipies, including crockpot ones.