My boyfriend and I eat the way you're describing all the time (minus the kids and pet chicken), and for the same reasons. Meat is so expensive!! We try to save the steak, shrimp and pork tenderloin for "special" meals (weekends, when Mom comes over, etc.) Maybe these suggestions will help:
1.) Do breakfast for dinner -- we have a lot of omlettes and scrambles for dinner. Its super easy and affordable. We have a bunch of ziplock baggies of veggies and some ham already cut up in the freezer, so I can usually prepare something pretty quickly, especially when its late and we're STARVING. Also, since it IS so easy, I can get two skillets going and make custom dishes for each of us. I do an egg white omlette with a half yolk and add some mushrooms, salsa, onions and a sprinkle of cheese plus some cottage cheese and fruit as a "side dish" for about 300 calories! Delicious! Also, buckwheat pancakes with fruit and a little yogurt on top are pretty awesome. You can mix the dry ingredients ahead of time so you'll always have a meal on hand.
2.) Keep it simple -- another meal we make is a simple base of brown rice, beans, and greens. You can jazz it up however you want and it seems like a new meal every time. I usually throw some frozen spinach into a skillet, add a little lemon juice, butter and itallian seasoning (boyfriend prefers frozen broccoli); make the rice with chicken or veggie broth added in for more flavor; and drain the beans (any kind -- I like black beans best) and add a good amount of salsa to 'em. Put it into individual bowls when everything is done (mix it up, or not -- your choice) and then sprinkle cheese on top. Microwave for 2 minutes. Enjoy. For me, this meal is about 400 calories, more if I decide to add extra cheese, and keeps me full for a long time.
3.) Everyone likes burgers -- we also make turkey burgers or portabella mushroom burgers all the time. With turkey, you can add oatmeal and an egg to make it go further. Also, if I have time, I like to carmelize some red onions (thick chopped onion, a little olive oil and some balsamic vinegar in a skillet 'til they're dark and sweet) and then add those, some parsley and feta cheese crumbles into the raw turkey. Get creative! You could do sun dried tomato and a little mozzerella too. I usually buy ground turkey when its half off ($3.50 for 1.25 lbs) at my grocery store and throw several packs inthe freezer. I don't know if your boys like mushrooms, but portabella caps are also easy and delicious. They look a little strange if you're not used to them, but they taste meaty and will fill everyone right up. You can make "pizza burgers" with them or marinate them in something like Mrs. Dash marinade or Lawrey's 30 minute marinade and then top with more veggies. I'd recommend those sandwich thins for these ideas to keep calories down.
Sorry for the long post, but as you can see I absolutely LOVE eating like this. All of our friends can't believe the variety of food we eat for so cheap. Feel free to ask me for more ideas or you can check out my favorite cook book "Light Basics Cookbook" by Martha Rose Schulmann -- I'll warn you, there's some chicken in there, but she gives you lots of ideas for a basic list of ingredients to keep around the house and there are a lot of recipes that combine the same or similar ingedients so you never waste anything. Good Luck!