Kenneth, thank-you for the interest and question. I suppose there is no emotional right or wrong way because bedding is so subjective. However, it sounds like you and I share the"how can I do this better / faster / more efficient" gene.
Traditionalists have bed the stalls very deep because they typically used larger flake shaving or straw. To get a supportive level of surface under the horse's weight, they needed more initial depth. The larger the flake / or fiber the greater the percentage of air in the mass. Under 1200 lbs, 12 inches of large flake is likely to compress down to 3 inches.
Additionally, without the support of a more dense, smaller flake, the larger flake will tend to move under hoof exposing the mat. This can cause several issues so bedding deep with a larger fiber or straw is probably the safe bet. In this case, it is critical to get the lowest dust and most absorbent product to avoid the dust and other issues with cleaning deep bedding.
If you choose to use pellets or fine flakes in the stall, you won't need to bed quite as deep because the compression under hoof is better and more supportive. Still, we recommend about 4 inches of small fiber under hoof to 1. get the most support for joints
2. support safe dropping and rising to avoid injury / slipping
3. absorb quickly to avoid wetspots and decrease ammonia
To address the economy of this question, starting a stall with about 4 inches of depth in a mini flake or pellet will save you money. The initial bedding seems expensive but the bedding will last so much longer that- in maintenance you'll save by reducing your consumption. You'll throw so much less bedding away with the manure - you will see immediate savings.
Hope that helps - please let me know if I can provide more clarification. Claire