Glad to see you are joining the experiment! Yes, glucose test strips can be expensive. It's the same business model as razors/razor blades and laser printers/ink cartridges, where they almost give away the main device and make their money on the consumables. And just like printers, each brand of glucose meter uses only its own designated test strips. (This is because the electronics inside each test strip are actually quite sophisticated).
If you buy the test strips in the pharmacy, they are 2-3 times as expensive as from Amazon, where they are only about $0.52 per strip, which is not too bad. (I long ago joined Amazon Prime, so all my shipping for books, gifts, etc. is free). If you are using 5 strips per day, that's less than $3/day, which is not too bad for an experiment that can help you to optimize your diet and exercise for maximum health.
Here would be my suggestions for a monitoring plan:
A. A minimal plan: 5 strips per day. Measure you blood glucose at the following times:
1. Within 30 minutes of waking, or right before breakfast. This is your "baseline" for the day. You want this to be no more than about 100 mg/dl. If it is higher, you should work on getting it lower. Then you will be normalizing your blood sugars, losing more weight during the night and getting more "even" energy.
2. One hour after the start of each meal (If you eat 3 meals, that's 3 total strips).
3. Right before going to bed.
B. You can add optional test strips for the the following:
1. If you have allowed at least 4 hours between meals with no snacking, add one test right before dinner or lunch. Note how much your glucose has dropped since the last meal.
2. If you want to see the effect of exercise, measure right before exercise and 1 hour after exercise.
3. If you want to see whether coconut oil (or other medium chain triglycerides) lowers your blood glucose, measure 30-60 minutes after the CO.
I use the journal every day and record the following:
1. The date at the left of each row
2. The time of day, and glucose reading in the next two columns (under the fork, spoon and knife symbol)
3. In the third column, I add two codes
A. H = state of hunger, which I rate between -2 (stuffed) to 0 (neutral) to 2 (starving)
B. E = energy level, which I rate between -2 (very tired) to 0 (neutral) to 2 (wired)
4. In the space at the bottom of each row, I add comments about what I ate, exercise, or other noteworthy events
I have been using Microsoft Excel to plot my blood glucose, hunger and energy levels vs. time of day. Yeah, it seems a bit obsessive, but that's just because I'm an engineer. I think you could still figure out cause and effect just by thinking about your results. I am continuing to learn a lot, and as a result, I've significantly reduced my average blood glucose levels and developed a much more even energy level. One thing is for sure: you will be surprised at what moves your blood sugar levels up and down. A lot of the conventional wisdom will go out the window!