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If sticking to the knife is a big issue, check out knifes with a granton edge. A cheaper one I've used is the Victorinox Santoku
whole chickens are cheaper and have more fat on them, learning to quarter them isn't super hard(some butchers will do this for free). [link] This knife is one I can recommend for a budget but very well performing tool. Plus you can make your own stock with the bones. Buying whole un prepared food is generally cheaper. I think having cut alcohol and snacks I am actually saving money despite spending more on meat. Also, you can get fat from butchers very inexpensively or free, which you can render(cook at low heat).
Though I'd prefer something made in America.
Thanks again for all your help, everyone. I talked with her some more and she mentioned that she's actually much more comfortable with santoku knives than chef's knives (and neither of us are professional cooks so the possible slight loss of versatility shouldn't be too much a problem), so I ended up going with this Victorinox santoku, blade guard, and a Wusthof paring knife. Aaaaand looking at the order I realized I forgot to get a sharpener god damn it. Although some people have been saying sharpener bad, honer good. So, for someone who enjoys cooking but is an absurdly busy grad student, who likes caring for materials to be simple as possible, is there any consensus on what the best intersection is between quality, cost, and simplicity?
With respect, I think you should try to actually hold the actual knife before deciding. Each of those has a different feel due to the handle shape, material, front to back balance, and honed edge. If you don't have that option then don't be afraid to return a knife if it doesn't feel totally natural when you cut with it.
I gift the Victorinox Santoku regularly. It's a great blade, well-balanced, and keeps an edge well, especially for the price. I personally use a MAC santoku or my chef's for veggie prep but they're more expensive.