[Note: Mentsuyu = Japanese noodle sauce/soup base]
Here are 3 great recipes for おかず (side dishes) requiring little more than vegetables and mentsuyu--so they're all super easy and cheap to make!
にんじんのめんつゆ煮 (２人分) Simmered mentsuyu carrots (serves 2)
にんじん... …１本 Carrot - 1
黒いりごま ……少々 Toasted black sesame seeds - a little
めんつゆ（市販品・ストレートタイプ)...…大さじ３～４ Mentsuyu (store bought, straight type) - 3-4 tablespoons
1. Wash and peel carrots and slice into very thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandolin slicer.
2. Put carrot and mentsuyu into a hot and bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat, cover and boil for 3 minutes (stirring occasionally).
4. Once carrots are tender, remove from heat, arrange in serving dishes and sprinkle with black sesame seeds
ピーマンのめんつゆ煮 (２人分) Simmered mentsuyu green peppers (serves 2)
ピーマン......４個 Green peppers - 4 (Japanese green peppers are small--probably equal to 1 regular-sized North American green (bell) pepper!)
サラダ油......大さじ1/2 Vegetable oil - 1/2 tablespoon
めんつゆ（市販品・ストレートタイプ)...…大さじ４ Mentsuyu (store bought, straight type) - 4 tablespoons
1. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Cut in half again width-wise (approx. 3-4 x 5cm pieces).
2. Heat oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Fry green peppers until both sides are lightly cooked/browned.
3. Add the mentsuyu. When it begins to boil, cover and let simmer (occasionally turning the peppers) on medium heat for 3 minutes.
じゃがいもの甘辛煮(２人分) Sweet & salty simmered potatoes (serves 2)
(Forgot to take a picture! @_@;; )
じゃがいも......大１個（２００－２３０ｇ） Potato - 1 large (200-230g)
めんつゆ（市販品・ストレートタイプ)...…大さじ３ Mentsuyu (store bought, straight type) - 3 tablespoon
1. Wash and peel the potato and cut into 4 pieces (width-wise). Cut again into 2cm pieces (width-wise) and let soak in water 5minutes before draining.
2. Put potatoes, 1/3 cup water and mentsuyu in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
3. Once boiling, reduce to low heat, cover, and let simmer until potatoes are tender (~10min).
Incidentally, all of these recipes are from this Orange Page cooking magazine: 手間なし、きっぱり「即」ごはん (Tema nashi, kippari soku gohan--loosely translated: "No hassle, super quick meals").
Out of all the Orange Page magazines I've purchased (~7?), this is probably the one I use the most. I like it (and the other magazines in the series) because not only does it have pictures for each step of the cooking process, but it also shows how all the meat/veggies should be cut in preparation for cooking! The ingredients for all of the dishes are also quite common and inexpensive.