I, too, read everything I could find about pedals, wasted time money and risked skin on straps and cages (Rat traps). Funny to read in a forum with so many varying opinions - that NOBODY has said anything negative about clipless shoes/sandals. The benefits in efficiency alone are amazing.
My suggestion is to forget about straps and cages. As a kid we all had 'rat traps' on our 'racing' bikes and rarely fell over. Maybe it's my age but I had more trouble (than I expected) remembering to pull my foot out straight backwards! That was "false" economy!
I read all that stuff about backing off the clip tension with clipless pedals, but my bike shop guy said to try them first. After 2 minutes practice holding onto a rail I have not had ANY trouble disconnecting. I find that to kick your ankle out is quite a natural movement. Likewise, I am surprised how often I click straight in after takeoff without even thinking about it! I bought the pedals with one flat side and one clip side so I can ride in thongs sometimes. Helps with the many 'missed' takeoffs as well...
(If you DO back off the clip tension, so long as you don't pull the shoe out, then does it really matter?)
The good bit of advice (worth it's own paragraph) is to disconnect with the pedal DOWN, as an extended leg flexes easier. Test this yourself - knee and ankle combined twist further than just your ankle alone.
But as far as pricing - DO shop around, as some shops have a great big range but great big prices too, yet the shop 50m away (eg BIKE Force Fremantle) will give 15% off if you buy pedals and shoes together. Also Bike Force Myaree did this for me when asked, and they had the shoes I liked. They also advertise a 'wind trainer' to test your setup if you want to, or check it if you have trouble.