Raechel Conover contributed to this report.
Food Holidays Calendar: When to Find Savings in 2016
Raechel Conover contributed to this report.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
National Cheeseburger Day hits two days later, on Sept. 18, which often has prompted Ruby Tuesday restaurants to give away free cheeseburgers.
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.
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).
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 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.