Food Holidays Calendar: When to Find Savings in 2016
Did you know that many dates are marked on the calendar as national food days? From doughnuts to bagels and lox, this means big savings on many favorites. With advance warning on which food holidays fall in which month, it's easy to keep an eye out for the deals and freebies that pop up as each commemorative day -- or month -- approaches.
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January: Pastries.January plays host to several national pastry holidays. While National Cream Puff Day already took place on Jan. 2, National Pie Day is coming up on Jan. 23 and National Croissant Day lands on Jan. 30. Drop by a local bakery in search of freebies.
January: Soup.This is National Soup Month, so check the canned-goods aisle at the grocery store for promotions. Campbell's is featuring commemorative recipe ideas on its website but no related discounts so far.
February: Snacks.The month of love is also a month of cheap munchies: It's been named National Snack Food Month. Look online for healthy snack ideas to celebrate this category of edibles, and look for featured snack items, both new and old, at grocery stores.
February 9: Bagels.National Bagels and Lox Day (or simply National Bagel Day) falls on Feb. 9. Last year Einstein Bros. Bagels handed out a free bagel with a coupon and several Panera Bread locations presented a free bagel with a drink purchase. Look for similar deals this year.
February 14: Chocolate.Valentine's Day shares Feb. 14 with a complementary holiday: National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day. While there may not be any big bargains on chocolate leading up to the holiday, the days following are prime time for stocking up on the sweet stuff, discounted for quick post-holiday sale.
February 22: Margaritas.Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurants have historically celebrated National Margarita Day on Feb. 22 with specials on margaritas and related products. Check a nearby outpost for this year's deals, as well as a favorite local Mexican restaurant to see if specials are on the menu.
February 24: Tortilla Chips.National Tortilla Chip Day follows on Feb. 24. Last year Salsarita's Fresh Cantina gave out free chips and salsa at some of its eateries. Look for similar deals at a favorite local Mexican restaurant and on bags of tortilla chips at the grocery store.
March: Frozen Food.Many of this month's featured foods are found in grocery stores. A full 31 days are served up as National Frozen Food Month, often accompanied by deals and coupons from brands such as Stouffer's and Healthy Choice.
March: Cereal and Chips.March 7 is Cereal Day, March 14 is Potato Chip Day, and March 23 is Chip and Dip Day. Special attention surely will be paid to these items at food markets nationwide.
March 8: Pancakes.National Pancake Day falls on March 8 this year, and IHOP restaurants traditionally go all out, giving away free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes in exchange for an optional donation to charity.
March 20: Ravioli.In honor of National Ravioli Day on March 20, restaurants such as Buca di Beppo and Brio Tuscan Grille have offered coupons and discounts in the past.
April: Pretzels.April brings showers of discounts for National Soft Pretzel Month. Look for pretzel deals all month but especially for National Pretzel Day on April 26, when Snyder's of Hanover has given out free pretzels in the past and Auntie Anne's pretzel shops have sold pretzels for $1.
April: Sandwiches.April is also National Grilled Cheese Month, and April 2 marks Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. Keep an eye out for grocery discounts on the ingredients for these childhood favorites, as well as restaurant freebies on April 12, National Grilled Cheese Day.
April: Pork and Taxes.Along with several tax-day freebies, National Glazed Spiral Ham Day may help soften the bite of April 15 for some taxpayers. This month also includes National Prime Rib Day on April 27.
April 29: Shrimp Scampi.In previous years Red Lobster has marked National Shrimp Scampi Day on April 29 by offering 10 pieces of the scrumptious crustaceans for $2.99 with the purchase of an entrée.
May: Hamburgers.For frugal foodies, May can be summed up in three words: National Hamburger Month. Look for deals on ground meat during these four-plus weeks. One notable bargain to hunger for: White Castle offered 25-cent sliders in past years through a promotion called "Slider-bration."
May: Salsa.This month also celebrates the tortilla chip's partner. It shouldn't be all that surprising that May has been declared National Salsa Month, as the delicious tomato-based dip deserves pride of place at any Cinco de Mayo party.
May: Pie and Cookies.Lest anyone forget particular varieties of dessert, May 13 is Apple Pie Day (not to be confused with National Pie Day in January) and May 15 is Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (the all-encompassing National Cookie Day comes later in the year). Last year DoubleTree by Hilton treated walk-ins (with or without lodging reservations) and many car rental customers to one of the hotel chain's iconic chocolate chip cookies.
May: Salad.On a healthier note, May is also National Salad Month. Watch for money-saving salad ideas to take a star turn on recipe sites this month to counteract the cookies and pie.
June: Doughnuts.June is stuffed with food holidays. It's National Candy Month and Iced Tea Month but perhaps most notable for National Doughnut Day. t falls on the first Friday (June 3 in 2016) -- or on Nov. 6, according to some calendars, but June is the time to find freebies. In the past, that's when Krispy Kreme has given away a free doughnut to each customer, no purchase required. Dunkin' Donuts rewarded customers who bought a drink with a free doughnut and Tim Hortons followed suit with any purchase.
July: Ice Cream.July equals summer (at least in the northern hemisphere), and there's no better time for National Ice Cream Month. The National Ice Cream Day celebration falls on the third Sunday of July (July 17 in 2016), and previous years have yielded savings from Baskin-Robbins, Graeter's, Cold Stone Creamery, Marble Slab Creamery, Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery, Burger King, and McDonald's, as well as local ice cream shops.
July 6: Fried Chicken.National Fried Chicken Day falls on July 6, but Church's Chicken started its celebration a day early in 2015, offering eight pieces for $6.99 July 5-6. KFC and other nationwide chains, as well as local restaurants, usually commemorate the holiday with deals.
July 23: Hot Dogs.National Hot Dog Month kicks off with the annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4, but July 23 has been deemed National Hot Dog Day. In prior years Sonic, 7-Eleven, and QuikTrip have all offered free or discounted hot dogs.
July 29: Lasagna.July 29 is National Lasagna Day, and quick-service Italian-food chain Fazoli's has celebrated the dish for the past four years. Customers received a free twice-baked lasagna with a drink purchase last year.
August 6: Root Beer Floats.Compared with the first seven months of the year, August is a slow period for food holidays -- but high time for vacations. In the spirit of the laid-back, warm-weather season, National Root Beer Float Day surfaces on Aug. 6, when A&W Restaurants has offered a free float to each customer in the past.
August 24: Waffles.National Waffle Day falls on Aug. 24, when restaurants such as Bob Evans, Denny's, and Waffle House typically offer coupons, buy-one-get-one-free meals, or a free waffle.
September: Chicken.In honor of National Chicken Month, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurants usually celebrate with a month-long chicken meal deal. Home cooks will find frugal recipes galore online and in local newspapers to honor this nutritious and cheap staple.
September: Starches.Summer winds down with National Potato Month and National Rice Month. Stock up on these low-cost carbohydrates and seek out ways to use potatoes and rice as cooler weather sets the mood for comfort food.
September: Bacon and Cheese Pizza.Some consumers enjoy these perennial favorites in combination, but bacon and cheese pizza each stand proudly on their own. Sept. 3 is the time to go hog wild for International Bacon Day. National Cheese Pizza Day on Sept. 5 has been marked in the past with a $5 coupon for a large cheese pie at some Papa John's locations.
September 16: Guacamole.National Guacamole Day arrives on Sept. 16, when several brands likely will offer coupons for the popular dip. Featured recipes online are also a certainty on this day.
September 18: Cheeseburgers.National Cheeseburger Day hits two days later, on Sept. 18, which often has prompted Ruby Tuesday restaurants to give away free cheeseburgers.
September 25: Lobster.October holds title to National Seafood Month, but seafood lovers can start celebrating on Sept. 25, otherwise known as National Lobster Day. Local restaurants in Maine, New York, Boston, and elsewhere often feature special discounts.
September 29: Coffee.Sept. 29 is National Coffee Day, and all the usual suspects -- Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Tim Hortons, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Krispy Kreme, and Dunkin' Donuts -- usually offer a free cup o' joe.
October: Pizza and Cookies.October is National Pizza Month and National Cookie Month. Pizza purveyor Papa John's has observed the moment with a joint offering: a family-size chocolate chip cookie for $5 with the purchase of any pizza (2016 plans TBD).
October 4: Tacos.National Taco Day arrives on Oct. 4, and both Baja Fresh and Taco Time have offered discounts to beef up the occasion in prior years.
November: Beyond Thanksgiving.November is a natural for celebrations of food. Is there any bigger, more extravagant day for feasting than Thanksgiving? Ironically, the month is fleshed out with some unrelated food holidays: National Candy Day on Nov. 4, National Nachos Day on Nov. 6, National Cake Day on Nov. 26, and National Chocolates Day on Nov. 29, all of which should present opportunities to find deals, coupons, and discounts at grocery stores or local restaurants.
December: Winter Holiday Treats.December is a very predictable month in terms of national food days. Think National Cookie Day (Dec. 4), when Quiznos has traditionally offered a free cookie to customers; National Eggnog Day (Dec. 24); National Candy Cane Day (Dec. 26); and National Champagne Day (Dec. 31). Discounts on these edible pleasures and on sparkling wines roll out through the month and make this festive time of year all the sweeter.
Raechel Conover also contributed to this story.