The most important aspect of growing bugs for food is their price. Arguably if they were extremely cheap it would give dramatic incentive for people to find more uses for them. So this is what we should be discussing.
My idea for reducing the cost of production and start up cost is the following:
Use very large thick black garbage bags, such as those used for leaves in the fall time for the Mealworm culture. These arguable increase efficiency and reduce cost dramatically as they have a nearly liquid behavior allowing the entire surface to be used without wasted space you'd get from plastic boxes.
This means if you have exactly 5ft^2 to work with, you will be able to use exactly that much for production instead of trying to awkwardly fit the max number of expensive plastic totes in the area and potentially leaving many inches or feet of unused space.
Additionally they can be as thick or as thin as you want and no vertical space will be wasted either if shelving were made properly.
They will of course be filled with the substrate and left laying.
It is also important to find the best material to grow them on. Arguably wheat bran and opuntia cactus or other cactus is the best option.
Wheat bran is approximately $200 per Ton and opuntia cacti are easy to grow and available to nearly everyone in the Americas. Likely another cactus like plant, if not opuntia, is available in other places such as China, Africa, Australia, etc.
Opuntia cacti make for a great moisture source in place of carrots according to this source: http://mealworm62.tumblr.com
This is cheaper than carrots as it requires far less care and propigation is easier.
What we really need to do is find out these variables:
1. Depth of substrate.
Does the depth of substrate negatively or positively effect yield?
Does rotating or agitating the substrate fix this problem?
If it could be a foot deep before needing to add shelves for another container (expensive!) it would very important to know. Imagine the production potential and low cost of a 1ft x 5ft x 5ft area!
2. Substrate mixture.
Is a mixture of high oil content rice bran and corn meal cheaper or higher yielding than just wheat bran alone? What particle size is ideal? Does it effect turn over time from beetle to larvae to beetle?
3. Do mealworms chew through large thick garbage bags?
4. If depth of substrate negatively effects yield, is it because improperly distributing the moisture providing cacti?
5. What is the ideal size of cactus cuttings to put in and at what ratio per amount of substrate?
We should each assign ourselves one of those variables and write out how we are going to scientifically perform expirements to find the ideal solution, share them with the community and look for ways to improve the expirement. Then at least two different people should perform the tests.
I would be happy to do some, but it is winter and I have little money. Expect me to do some expirement in the summer.