Newcastle Masterchef winner shares his tips and recipes for cooking on a budget

We’re all feeling the pinch right now and BBC Masterchef winner Tom Rhodes is no different. Newcastle boy Tom has seen a dramatic change in the way people cook and eat since winning the BBC’s amateur cooking show, and says the Cost of life crisis has had a huge impact on the way he cooks and shops.

Although Tom, 32, is a regular at food shows across the country and is busy with his private catering business, he still works at Nando’s restaurant in Newcastle because, he says, he needs the security of a regular salary, especially the moment .

To M, who won Masterchef last year and served as a judge on this year’s show, would like to share some tips on how to make tasty food on a budget with Chroniclelive readers.

“There’s no doubt about it, extravagant recipes and dining out are often the first things to go when people cut back on spending, and I’m no different,” he said. “My long-term goal is to be completely independent, but now is definitely not the time to do that. I know with my own cooking and shopping how prices have gone up and I’m making a conscious effort to change my way to cook to reduce costs.

Read more: Cost of living crisis: easy sum to determine the cost of running your appliances

“I live on my own and try to keep my weekly basket at around £40, but to do this I’ve reduced the amount of meat I eat and I’m doing a lot more vegetarian meals than before. I buy a lot of fruits and vegetables, especially when they’re on offer, but then you have to be careful that you use them and they don’t go to waste, especially when things are 3 for 2 or whatever.

“I try not to waste anything I buy, and I’m definitely becoming my mom! I never thought I’d tell her about the cost of food, but I do, regularly!”

Tom Rhodes shows off his Masterchef trophy in the kitchen of his Scotswood home

The cost-of-living crisis put Tom’s bigger plans on hold, and he praised Nando for the support they gave him, which kept him there. “It’s a great transition to self-employment and in the current climate I’m grateful to have a paycheck at the end of each month so I know my bills are paid,” he said. . Right now, I’m nervous about where my money would come from if I were self-employed.”

At home in Scotswood, Tom says he has made big changes to save money when he cooks and tries to stick to a budget of around £5 a day for food. “I would advise people to really think about how they can cut their food costs,” he said. “Cooking at home is obviously cheaper than eating out, and there are plenty of inspirations for cooking on a budget.

“Look at the way you shop. Sometimes the brands are better, sometimes they’re not. I buy a variety of own-label, budget, and branded products. Decide what’s important to you – I always buy a particular brand of pasta because I prefer But the pasta is cheap anyway so the extra cost is minimal.

“My advice is to really think about how you can get more for your money. Things like tomato paste and olive oil can really change dishes, and a little goes a long way. When I cooking, I like to get as much umami flavor in my food as possible. Umami is the distinct salty taste you get from things like Marmite, and it gives food a great depth of flavor.

Tom’s StoreCupboard core products are:

  1. Miso (Japanese soybean paste) Tom says: “It’s not the cheapest thing to buy initially, but a step further. It can be used to give a great flavor to broths, used as a marinade or in salad dressings.
  2. tomato paste Tom says: Concentrated tomato flavor adds depth to pasta sauces
  3. Soya sauce Tom says: It adds a salty flavor to the food
  4. Beans, legumes, lentils and chickpeas Tom says: Either use by themselves or fluff up the meat to make it go further. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan or just looking to cut down on your meat intake, there’s no need to buy expensive plant-based processed foods when you can make great meals with legumes. Plus, they’re full of protein. »

To bring a taste of Masterchef to your own kitchen, albeit on a budget, Tom has crafted three easy and inexpensive meals for Chroniclelive readers.

Quick Chilli Oil Fried Eggs

Tom says: I find eggs to be both incredibly versatile and satisfying, and they’re often a cheaper source of protein than many meat and fish products. Eggs and rice are my choice when I want something quick, easy and delicious and this chili oil is a great way to add bags of flavor with very Little effort.

Ingredients – for 2 people

About. £1.25 per serving

  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • small spring onions, bunch, sliced
  • 400g cooked rice
  • salt


  1. Combine chilli flakes, grated garlic, sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. next to.
  3. Heat a skillet over high heat and add the oil. Once it starts to sparkle, crack
  4. your eggs in the pan. Personally, I prefer my fried eggs with crispy edges, so I keep
  5. the heat is high here, but if you prefer them less crispy, I recommend turning it down
  6. the heat. Using a spoon, drizzle the eggs with the oil from the pan to ensure the white
  7. is well cooked.
  8. When the eggs are cooked to your liking (my preference is for fully cooked whites
  9. and a runny yolk), then remove them from the pan, trying to leave as much hot oil in
  10. the pan as possible. Pour the remaining hot oil from the pan over the chili flakes
  11. mix, being careful as it may splatter. Season the oil with the soy sauce and
  12. vinegar and stir to combine.
  13. To serve, add 2 eggs to each bowl of rice and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of the chili oil mixture
  14. above each bowl. Garnish with spring onions and enjoy.

pasta and this

Tom says: Pasta e ceci or pasta and chickpeas is a common dish in central and southern Italy. It’s a excellent recipe to have on hand because it is made up of ingredients that we all often have in our pantry. I particularly like the use of tomato paste in this recipe; it’s convenient and affordable way to add real depth of flavor to many dishes.

Ingredients for 4 persons

About 70p per serving

  • 400g pasta – I prefer tubes or shells here as they contain the chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary (optional), chopped if fresh
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • salt


  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. To add
  2. your pasta and cook it according to package instructions.
  3. Heat another skillet over medium-high heat and add your olive oil. Once the oil starts
  4. for shimmer, add your garlic, along with your chili flakes and rosemary if using. To cook
  5. until fragrant, about 30 seconds, before adding your tomato paste. cook your
  6. tomato paste until the color changes from bright red to brick red.
  7. Add your chickpeas to the pan with the tomato paste, along with 250ml of water.
  8. Season with salt, about 1 teaspoon, and bring to a boil.
  9. Once your chickpeas are boiling, use the back of a fork to lightly mash about a
  10. quarter of the chickpeas. This will help release some starch, which in turn
  11. thicken the sauce. Lower the heat to low while you wait for your pasta
  12. finish cooking.
  13. Once your pasta is well cooked, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the
  14. chickpea pasta and stir to combine. This is intended to be very tasty pasta,
  15. almost broth, but add a little cooking water if the sauce seems too thick.
  16. Serve and enjoy.

Seasonal hot and sour soup

Tom says: One way for all of us to save money is to eat a more vegetable-based diet, even more so if we try to buy seasonal vegetables, not only is it when they taste their better, but you can often find seasonal items cheaper or as part of a deal. This soup is adaptable to the seasons and in autumn I like to enjoy vegetables such as butternut squash, kale and leeks, although you can use these vegetables are really boosted by umami-packed flavor bombs such as miso paste and soy sauce, often found with other East Asian ingredients in most supermarkets. You can add extra protein to this soup by whisking two eggs and slowly pour them into the soup, stirring to make egg ribbons or add silk cubes tofu to keep this plant based. You can also add cooked noodles to the soup for a more satisfying meal.

Ingredients for 4 persons

Around £1.10 per serving

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek, washed and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes, plus more for serving
  • 4 tablespoons miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar, plus more for seasoning
  • 400g butternut squash, cut into approximately 1.5cm cubes
  • 200g kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • salt


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. As soon as the oil begins to
  2. shimmer, add leeks and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Once the leeks have
  3. softened, add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook until fragrant, approx. 1 minute.
  4. Then add 1L of water to the pan, along with the miso paste, soy sauce and vinegar
  5. and stir to combine. Bring the pan to low heat and taste for seasoning,
  6. add salt if necessary.
  7. Add the butternut squash and kale and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the
  8. butternut squash is tender. Finally check the seasoning and rectify with salt, vinegar
  9. and chili flakes to taste.

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