For me, the summer means fresh fruits and vegetables, trips to the farmer’s market, and canning garden produce. I’m always inspired by the all of the vegetables available during the summer. I love being able to get a great deal on fresh cucumbers or sun ripened tomatoes. We eat a lot more fresh vegetables and garden salads when produce is more affordable.

Sometimes, I have the best of intentions, but I bring home a little bit more produce that we will realistically be able to use before it goes bad. I hate throwing away food, even if it is peelings, so I’ve come up with a few ways to reduce waste in the kitchen that I wanted to share with you.

1. Compost

One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of garbage you generate is to compost food waste. If you’re lucky enough to have ducks and chickens like we do, you can simply toss the peelings and cores into their pen for them to enjoy. Our chickens think apple cores are a real treat, and the ducks love slightly wilted spinach leaves. If you don’t have ducks and chickens, you can purchase a small compost bucket to sit on the kitchen counter and collect waste there. Once every day or two, you can toss the contents into a larger compost heap in the yard.

2. Simmering Potpourri

Sometimes the kitchen gets a stale smell–or perhaps you just chopped a huge onion or broiled fresh salmon and want to get rid of the kitchen odors. Save apple peels and citrus peels and put them in a small pot with a little water. Simmer them gently to release the scent into your room. You can add a cinnamon stick and a few clove buds too if you want. It’s the perfect all natural room deodorizer.

3. Freezer Soup

We did this a lot when money was tight. Collect the miscellaneous odds and ends from your produce, including the last few carrots, a slightly wilted handful of parsley and those huge zucchinis no one wants. Store them in the freezer until you have enough, and then toss them in a soup pot with some free range chicken broth. It makes a great vegetable soup.

4. Can It

Canning and making jelly and jam is an easy way to use up extra garden produce. It doesn’t matter if the strawberries are slightly soft when you are going to turn them into strawberry jam. Even larger cucumbers make fantastic dill pickles.

5. Share With Friends

We always have far too much rhubarb to use up easily. What I don’t cook with or freeze, I share with friends. In turn, they bring me extra zucchini (which I don’t plant) and grapes for grape jelly. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

The next time that you find yourself wasting too much in the kitchen, I hope that you’ll try a few of my suggestions to help reduce waste in the kitchen. Enjoy your fresh garden produce while you can!