It’s been nine years since home chef and lifestyle expert Sandra Lee has shared her signature wallet-friendly recipes and cooking tips on the small screen.

“I needed some rest, and I needed to think about what would really serve people,” says the former host of Food Network’s Semi-Homemade Cooking and Sandra’s Money Saving Meals.

She’s setting out to do just that with Dinner Budget Showdown (which debuted on the Roku Channel on May 3). “This is my first comeback,” says Sandra, 57, “but I have many coming. I’m ready!”

Here, the New York Times bestselling author and Emmy winner — who battled breast cancer in 2015 and split from her longtime partner, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in 2019 amid rumors he’d been unfaithful — talks to Closer about her new show, surviving cancer and heartache, and her guilty pleasure snack.

Tell us more about Dinner Budget Showdown: An incredible lineup of guest judges, including Carla Hall, Joe Sasto, Darrell Smith and Claudia Sandoval, come on and make an expensive meal, like Wagyu beef with handmade noodles. Then we have the three contestants make a similar meal, and the best, least expensive dish wins. The winner gets free groceries for a year. It’s such a cool concept.

Why return to TV now? We all had a tremendous amount of time off during COVID. It gave me a lot of time to think about content.

You’ve been through a lot in the last couple of years: It’s been a journey. The breakup was startling for everybody. The cancer diagnosis was the biggest thing, [along with] the challenge of getting so sick when I was going through the treatment. When I went to the [2015] Emmys, I didn’t realize how emaciated I was until I saw the looks on other people’s faces. Then I saw the pictures, and I went, “Wow. My body’s been through it.” I’m so grateful to it for carrying me through those hard times. I had a pretty intense nine years.

Who else have you leaned on? My sister was a huge support. But I have to say, I’ve built more of a relationship with myself and relied on myself. I’ll say, “OK, Sandy, good job.” Or, “Good morning, Sandy. How are you doing? I know you’re tired, but don’t be a slacker today.” I motivate myself or I give myself a break.

What lifestyle changes have you made? I’ve always been a meat-and-potatoes girl, but I really like salads and vegetables and smoothies now. I lean into sleep, and I try to be self-aware about when I need time off. Before, I was just running to get everything done. And I’m a bit clearer about what other people’s agendas are.

What motivates you to keep going? I’ve lived my life by the motto “No is not an option.” There’s nothing we can’t do. I came from welfare and food stamps. Now, I’ve got two Emmys. Anything is possible. You just have to do it.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I just really love making content for people that will make a difference in their lives and is not just food, but food for thought and food for their soul.

And personally? I see myself working on being happy and embracing whatever God has in store for me.