How much does tofu cost relative to anything else? Do I consider it a meat substitute? Which tofu should I buy and in which section of the grocery store would I find it?
tofu is usually around $2 for just under a pound. 14 oz or something like that. It's kind of a meat sub, I guess, but way more versatile. I don't know what you think of when you think about food, but you're going to need to not about "a vegetable, a slab of meat, and a side". Vegan meals don't get split up like that. You won't ever be satisfied if you're looking for a meat sub ala "a steak", or a chicken wing or breast, or a porkchop, etc. It just doesn't work like that.
I usually just cut it into cubes and toss it into a pan for a stir fry (I usually let that cook in some oil (pan fry) for a few minutes before adding the veggies in order to firm it up a bit more). For my rice/bean/tofu thing I just cube it and don't do anything else to it. Straight from the package.
One of my favorite things about veganism is that I'm not going to die if I don't cook some of my ingredients. That's awesome. Little to no danger of catching a bug from raw vegan food.
AND, if there is a "natural" section in your supermarket, try there, otherwise it'll be in the produce section usually by the organic stuff. (is there a consensus with that, or is that just in Minnesota?)
Oh, and which tofu to buy? To me, it's all the same. Others might disagree, and that's fine. Whole foods brand tofu, if you've got one of those, is cheap and great. I usually just get whatever they have at my local Cub foods, unless I find myself at one of the few food co-ops in town.