Food Holidays: When to Score Free and Cheap Food All Year
From pizza to pretzels to pancakes, the calendar is packed with national food days that can bring big savings on many of your favorite treats. Frugal foodies who are hungry for freebies and discounts will want to keep track of the following delicious deals.
National Doughnut Day usually falls on the first Friday in June (this year it's June 1) or in early November, according to some calendars, but June is when Krispy Kreme typically gives away free doughnuts to customers, no purchase required, and Dunkin' Donuts often serves up a freebie for customers who buy a drink. Tim Hortons has gone the coupon route, offering a half-dozen for $3, while other times offering up freebies or other special offers like this year's promotion of 24k gold-dusted doughnut holes and free donuts for the year offered to the first customers at select locations.
National Lobster Day, held in mid-June, is a perfect time to indulge in this usually pricey crustacean. Keep an eye out for special discounts at seafood restaurants in your area.
July heat means there's no better time for National Ice Cream Month and a bunch of tag-along days, including National Ice Cream Day, on the third Sunday (July 15 this year). Baskin-Robbins, Graeter's, Cold Stone Creamery, Marble Slab Creamery, Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery, Burger King, McDonald's and more have all had deals for the month.
National Hot Dog Month kicks off with a bang at the annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4, and National Hot Dog Day the third week of July (this year on July 18) has seen free or discounted hot dogs from 7-Eleven, Sonic, and QuikTrip.
Waffle House is the obvious place to go for National Waffle Day on Aug. 24. Expect to find coupons or discounts, buy-one-get-one-free meals, or even a free waffle. Not a traditional waffle fan? Cold Stone Creamery locations offered a deal for a waffle cone in the past.
The usual suspects — Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Peet's & Coffee Tea, Tim Hortons, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Einstein Bros., Krispy Kreme, and Dunkin' Donuts — typically offer deals for National Coffee Day, Sept. 29, whether it's in a cup, pods, or a bag for home brew.
October is National Pizza Month. In the past, Papa Johns offered BOGO pizza deals, and look to other national chains such as Pizza Hut to also offer deals.
National Nachos Day at the beginning of November has seen deals from restaurants such as On The Border (half off popular versions) and Salsarita's ($5 nachos throughout the day).
National Bagel Day in early February inspires Einstein Bros. Bagels, Panera Bread, and other chains to offer freebies. Watch for deals at various bagel chains near you next 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.
Keep an eye out for National Pie Day specials in mid-March; in the past, Long John Silver's and Burger King have offered a free slice, and pie specialists Marie Callender's and the Village Inn have served up coupons for the day.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurants celebrate National Margarita Day in February with specials on margaritas and related products.
IHOP restaurants traditionally go all out for National Pancake Day in February, giving away free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes in exchange for an optional donation to charity. Other pancake-serving chains have also been known to get in on the action.
Look for pretzel deals for all of National Soft Pretzel Month in April but especially for National Pretzel Day, which usually happens toward the end of April. Several chains typically celebrate; Snyder's of Hanover has done giveaways and Auntie Anne's pretzel shops have offered free-pretzel coupons and the chance to win free pretzels for a year.
For meat lovers, May can be summed up in three words: National Hamburger Month. Look for deals on ground meat during these weeks or head to White Castle, which has offered 25-cent and even free sliders in past years.
DoubleTree by Hilton is known for giving guests chocolate chip cookies as one of their hotel perks and has even gone outside its hotels on at least one National Chocolate Chip Day in May. 7-Eleven and Potbelly Sandwich Shop have also offered deals in the past. Another way to mark the day is by baking up a batch of the treats.
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