how to deal with unhealthy leftovers + divine 4 ingredient cheesecakes
[5 ingredients | simple baking]

4 ingredient cheesecakes-2 4 ingredient cheesecakes-4

On Twitter I recently had someone tell me they didn’t completely align with my philosophy but wanted to know if I had anything on dealing with (unhealthy) leftovers. Which got me thinking.

And since today is Thanksgiving, the holiday that often has a lot of leftovers associated with it, why not share a few ideas on what to do with leftovers.

1. avoid having leftovers in the first place.
As I mentioned in my post, ‘Do you make the most common thanksgiving mistake?‘ it’s best to plan not to have leftovers. I find they tend to happen naturally and if you plan for leftovers you’re asking to be inundated.

Recently I’ve really been getting into baking individual sized desserts and then only making as many as required, rather than having a whole cake leftover. The little cheesecakes below are my latest creation, but I’ve also been loving my 4 ingredient chocolate cakes, these supermoist carrot cakes, and my self-saucing ginger puddings.

2. share with your guests
Get organised and divide up the leftovers into little parcels for your guests before they leave. Everyone will love the thought and you’ll be saved from the temptation of leftover dessert or the monotony of eating turkey for days on end.

3. share with your colleagues
One thing I do miss about having a normal job is being able to share excess food with my work mates. It always amazed me how quickly things would disappear when left in a communal place.

4. get creative
One of the least appealing aspects of leftovers is having to eat the same meal for days. If you take the time to get a bit creative and mix things up. Recipes like egg fried rice, baked frittata and even butter chickpea curry can be miracles for turning leftover bits and pieces into a wonderful, refreshing meal.

5. use the freezer
When it comes to cakes and sweet treats, many can be frozen in small portions so you can enjoy a little at a time in moderation.

4 ingredient cheesecakes-3

[5 ingredients | simple baking]
divine 4 ingredient cheesecakes

serves 2 (or 10-12)

If you don’t have a food processor you can still make the cheesecakes. Just make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature before you start and be prepared to whisk energetically. A great workout!

If you can’t find sour cream, creme fraiche would be lovely or even just regular heavy whipping cream.

Feel free to use this recipe as a base for different flavourings. Some lemon zest or vanilla would be a classic combination. Pureed pumpkin is delicious. I can imagine a layer of fresh dates or prunes would take it to another level. Or serve with poached fresh or dried fruit such as cherries, strawberries or apricots. So versatile.

for 2 individual servings
100g (3 1/2oz) cream cheese, softened
120g (4oz) sour cream
40g (1 1/2oz) sugar
1 egg

for 1 large cheesecake 10 – 12 servings
2 packets cream cheese (500g / 1lb total weight), softened
2 cartons sour cream (600g / 20oz total weight)
200g (7oz) sugar
5 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 170C (340F). If using ramekins, place a baking tray on the middle shelf to preheat.

2. Line 2x 1 cup capacity ramekins (or a 9in (23cm) springform pan) with baking paper and grease the base and sides with oil or butter.

3. Whisk together cream cheese and sour cream and stir eggs and sugar until combined. Add egg mixture to the cream cheese a little at a time until all combined OR whizz everything in a food processor until smooth.

4. Pour into the prepared ramekins (or pan) and bake for 30-40 minutes (or 1 hour for the large pan) or until golden around the edges and the cheesecake feels firm in the centre when you touch the top.

5. If you have time allow to cool in the oven. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

4 ingredient cheecake video on YouTube.

4 ingredient cheesecakes


The new video version of 5 ingredients | 10 minutes and the individual chapter mini-ecookbooks are almost done. Watch this space(!)


  • Hi Jules,
    Thank you for this cheesecake recipe. I make something similar using natural (unsweetened) yoghurt instead of sour cream and some flour to add a crust. I wonder if I could substitute yoghurt in your recipe as well?

    You are my inspiration. :)

  • Nancy
    I think you’re becoming my inspiration.
    Absolutely to the natural yoghurt – actually would probably make a lighter, more lovely cheesecake. Let me know if you try it

  • I think I should have suggestion No 1 tattooed to my arm ‘avoid having leftovers in the first place’. I struggle with this one through Christmas/New Years period. People come over, people eat, but then my husband decides for New Year that it is diet time and I am eating the cheese/chocolate/fruitcake etc etc that I overcatered and feel I can’t toss because food is not for throwing out.

    I have always felt uncomfortable when people offer me food to take home with me, but you have suggested this on your blog before, so is it just me who has issues? Do you really think someone might really want the rest of a wheel of cheese or half a cake or even some of the main meal?

    The cheese and dessert part is the big one – we tend to have several cheeses and where we are you don’t normally have much say in the size of the wedge/wheel/chunk you buy there is ALOT left over. Obvisouly I do not put all of the cheese out to serve, so the hunk in the fridge is sitting there. Some I can freeze.

    Does anyone else have a problem taking food home or would you be more than happy to take leftovers or a cake or half a cheese ??? I would pack it up nicely. But do people feel like they are takign someone’s rubbish home?

    I feel weird re-reading that so please be gentle.

  • love your site – and your awesome simple recipes!!! (i have to admit i do add extra ingredients sometimes but love having your recipes to start with for my own experiments..) THANKS SO MUCH! keep up the great work.

  • Wonderful leftover tips. Another would be to pack up some dinners and take to some shut-ins, or widows/widowers who are on limited income – and staying a bit for a visit.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to try these little cheesecakes. :)

  • I personally LOVE holiday leftovers! When I’m not hosting a holiday event then I take home as many leftovers as possible. I’ve been known to bring my own tupperware just for this purpose.

    #6 on this list should be “Share with Samantha”

  • I think “give them away to your guests” is among the best of all tips. After all, there’s nothing like having dinner guests grateful for a good meal–and then grateful again the next day when they get to have more.

    I do find myself pushing back against the idea of not making leftovers in the first place. Having leftovers is a trivial problem compared to the catastrophe of not having enough food. To me it’s better to err on the side of caution and make too much food rather than less.

    Great insights as always Jules!

  • I think giving leftovers to take home is a great idea. There’s nothing like a middle-of-the-night piece of pie. I personally don’t like not having any leftovers – I’ll worry that somebody might still be hungry.

  • Dan,
    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one;)

    Is it really a catastrophe to not have enough food? I mean it’s not like anyone is going to have to go to bed without any supper.

    Maybe not having enough is a good way to help people avoid overstuffing themselves?

    Love your work – maybe you should head over to Alex’s place and help her get over her giving leftovers away phobia ;)

    brilliant idea – I hadn’t thought of the whole helping those in need route – brilliant

    thanks shelvia
    lovely to hear from people enjoying stonesoup

    I think it’s really sweet that you think you guests wouldn’t want your leftovers. But to most people they aren’t waste – they’re delicious things. I’d always be up for carting home a spare half a wheel of cheese… Although sounds like Sis’ suggestion would be perfect for you – do let me know how you get on this Christmas.

  • Lovely simple little cheesecakes. Wondering how you could make these in chocolate. Any suggestions?

  • Empress
    Chocolate cheesecakes. Love the way your mind works!
    I’d just melt some chocolate and stir in after you’ve mixed the cheesecake mix – a chocolate swirl might be nice. About 50g or 2oz should do the trick.

    Or you could use cocoa powder.

  • If I’m hosting a dinner party of any kind and I’ve got heaps of desserts left over, I always end up dishing it out to my family members before they leave the house!! A fanttpastic way of the food not ending up in my body

  • Thankyou everyone. I honestly didn’t think people would want this stuff and I always get a bit overenthusiastic and provide alot and feel guilty serving things the week after that are too similar the week before (if some of the same people are turning up). I might put a small PS at the bottom of invites to indicate people should bring tupperware for leftovers.

    I think paleolithic man from your last post would be doing cartwheels in his grave watching the weekend feasts that happen from the end of November through to mid january at our place. Maybe he would just shake his head and smile. He would approve of at least some of the courses!

    I will make your cheesecakes this wekeend – with dark chocolate, pounded juniper berries and some cherries tossed in. I only wish I could make them right now!

  • Well I have tried the cheesecakes with the yoghurt and – oh my – what a delightful treat indeed! I must stop myself from putting these on the menu every day of the week now. I only had ‘light’ Yoplait yoghurt (I love the tartness) but would love to experiment with different yoghurts.

    Unfortunately my beloved camera is at the Camera Clinic at the moment so no photos of my delectable little cakes… for now!

    You must tell me though, Jules, where you have learned to take such extraordinary food photos?

  • P.S. You are amazing. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have (and still am) learning from you. Your Solve Your Dinner Dilemma is a gem of a course and has opened up my mind to so many possibilities and freed up my time to focus on our little business.

    Thank you ever so much for the opportunity to be part of the course. And if I can ever be of any assistance with any blog and/or web needs you might have, now or in the future, I would love to return the favor!

    Much love to you,

  • This is a post I think I disagree with.

    I’m a Uni student and was sent home from Thanksgiving with several dinners worth of food.

    We spent the night with the family who hosted Thanksgiving and in the morning had leftovers for breakfast. Also for lunch. We made turkey soup with leftover meat and veggies. My Thanksgiving tradition involves leftovers.

    It also has Thanksgiving as a planned potluck, with everyone contributing, not one family being burdened with all the cooking.

  • I’m looking forward to making these. My husband loves cheesecake but I’m not always the biggest fan–but these sound light and tart enough for me to enjoy while indulging him at the same time!

    I’m going to use four 1/2-cup ramekins instead of two 1-cup. Should I just reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes (or at least start watch at that point)?

  • These little cheesecakes look wonderful, Jules! Alas, I am currently far from my oven and must save them for another time!

    And, on leftovers – this problem solves itself once one has (semi) adult children coming for dinner. Never seen a 20-something child with an empty fridge turn down a take-home package!

  • Hi Jules, love the blog. Just a thought with the cheesecakes, I have been baking mine in the oven in a waterbath (around 1/2 to 2/3’s of the way up the side of the ramekins) for years and the difference in creaminess and texture is truly amazing. I will definately be trying your recipe with the waterbath too!

  • marie
    that’s so cute – yes feeding starving students fixes all leftover problems

    thanks for sharing your waterbath experience – I’m always too lazy to do it that way. Will put it on my list of things to experiment with – wondering if it really makes that much difference – great food for thought ;)

    yes I’d say 20 minutes would be a great starting point to check – let me know how you get on

    each to their own;) thanks for sharing your thoughts

  • wow, how adorable are these.
    i am the type of person who craves dessert every single day, terrible habit, but these look so easy to make when i have a little time.


  • I did it :) And it has amazing taste. My hubby wants to eat all 4 (I made it double) Thank you for such easy and wonderful recipe :)

  • I’m in the us and we don’t weigh our sugar-do you know how many tablespoons I would need to add? These look delightful. And if I wanted to make them pumpkin-hpw much could I add to the recipe.
    love your site-I’m new here

  • Hi Jules! Thanks for much for this blog! These are great tips! Im a Registered Dietitian and tell clients all the time to use these tips. I also linked your link in mine “I know it’s your mother’s Easter pie, but throw it out!”

    Thanks again!

  • Thanks for the recipe! I’ve been looking for a cheesecake recipe with under five ingredients…I can’t wait to try this!

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