I normally print on 11x14 or 16x20 paper. When I put the negative in my enlarger, I usually end up using a smaller 8x10 piece (of the exact same type of paper) in the area of most importance to the image, and make a test strip there, which I then base my first work print exposure on.
After I make my first work print I study it, and figure out how much exposure (or tone) I need to add or subtract in various portions of the image, and make my second print. Usually I am able to get a print that I'm happy with on this second sheet of larger paper, but sometimes it takes a third sheet.
Even though fiber paper is more expensive, I think it's better to have a few prints that I'm really happy with, than lots of prints that I feel I'm making compromises with. If you take great care and really pay attention to what you're doing, it's easier to keep costs down in the darkroom.
A few tricks are:
1. Use the same film and film developer, so that you know what to expect when you print. This takes a LOT of the guess work and darkroom gymnastics out of the process. Some people don't believe me, but after you learn how to make really good negatives, things just seem to fall into place when you print. Of course a little bit of hard work is required, but you get my drift, I hope.
2. Use fresh paper of the same kind, and a dedicated print developer. Because if you really want to try to maximize the potential of your film, you must also consider the qualities of your paper and paper developer. The whole process actually starts with the paper, because everything else you do, in exposing and processing your film, serves the purpose of being printed on your paper.
The whole system comes full circle when you start to really grasp and manipulate all of these parameters to suit your pictures. The more different materials you use, the more confusing it will be. Good pictures don't care if you shoot Ilford or Kodak film, and whether you print on ADOX or Foma paper, using Moersch or Photographer's Formulary chemicals. Pick something and run with it, and learn how to be good at working your materials so that they harmonize, and your darkroom waste will significantly drop. Initial cost will be higher, though, during the time you come to grips with everything.