Tonight Eyal, Ryan and myself had a long discussion re FPGA development.
Eyal has bought himself a cheap Spartan 6 based board, ~$30 or so. I purchased a different board with the same FPGA but less circuitry for much the same. See http://www.chinaqmtech.com/. They offer two Spartan 6 boards, mine is the cheaper, only has 32Mb of SDRAM. Both boards require a JTAG programmer, an additional cost. Spartan 6 is older technology and uses a legacy tool chain.
http://www.digilentinc.com has nice boards but a little more expensive. Cheapest is the CMod S7, a Spartan 7 on a very small, breadboardable layout. Very minimal but does have a built in programmer. Uses the Vivado tool chain, the current offering.
You can dive into FPGAs without spending anything and just download Vivado to play in the simulator. No cost.
My suggestion is Verilog over VHDL, particularly if you know C. Most recent digital logic texts include examples in one or the other, sometimes both. An excellent author is Pong Chu, an American professor. He has written two books with the same topics, one in Verilog, the other in VHDL.
Hope this sparks some discussion.