With so many ads for seemingly great knives at cheap prices, why do knowledgeable chef's spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their knives? Because there really are huge difference in knives in terms of sharpness, durability, stain resistance, weight and balance, and the cheap knives simply don't measure up to the good ones. But fortunately there is a very good knife line that is affordable, the Victorinox (of Swiss Army Knife fame) Professional (formerly Forschner) with Fibrox handles.
Currently on Amazon, the multipurpose 8-Inch Chef's Knife is $25, the versatile 7-Inch Granton Edge Santoku Knife is $33 (can make wafer thin slices that don't stick to the blade), and knife sets start at only $70.
Tip: If you're going to keep the knife loose in a drawer, get a Blade Safe to protect both the knife and you.