Instead of making test strips exposures 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 seconds, make them in f/stop related increments.
For example third-f/stops: 5, 6, 8, 10, 13 seconds.
Gene Nocon was a bit of a pioneer with f/stop printing, and he was an amazing printer. When people like Yousuf Karsh comes to ask 'How did you do that?' you know there's something to it.
I've used it for a while now, and I find blacks and highlights that I didn't find before.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
I've usually used test strips, sometimes I've cut 8x10" paper into a couple of 5x7s and used what was left as test strips. Or I cut a whole piece into strips... if I can't tell from the test strip whether I'm 'there' or not, I've cut whatever size piece of paper I needed for the particular photo. (Or I just figure what the h... and go ahead and use a whole piece of paper and see what I've got.)
I don't know if I'd make smaller sized strips to be able to use less paper/save money, but I've cut smaller strips when I was running out of paper and didn't want to stop what I was working on! or had gone thru my last pack of paper faster than I thought.
I used Gene Nocon f-stop system for years until RH Designs produced the Stop Clock Professional an F Stop enlarger Timer. When I got used to using that I could never see myself going back to any other type of printing. I also have the Zone Master II by the same company. But through all the changes I could never eliminate the use of test strips. I find them a comfort to know that I'm nearing the best print that I can make.
Paterson made a device that took paper up to 5x4 to make test strips. It had 5 'fingers' which could be used to block off light to the piece of paper being used. I normally use Kentmere fibre for my better prints and buy a 12x16 box because this works out cheapest. However to avoid cutting down a big sheet I also have a box of 5x7 which I either cut into 2 or 3 pieces and use that. I very rarely use more than a complete sheet of 5x7 to make a decent 12x16.