COLUMBUS (WCMH) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of items have dropped in price, from hotels to airfare, even car insurance and gas.

But the price tags at grocery stores are on the rise, but there is a solution.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), grocery prices are expected to increase by 3 percent on average this year as Americans spend more money on groceries,

When coronavirus closed most of the country in March, items like bread, meat, and toiler paper were in high demand and nearly impossible to find.

And while the supply chain seems to be back to normal now, some experts warn there may be a second wave of COVID-19 in the coming months.

This could likely lead to a second rush of grocery hoarding, leading to higher prices.

But instead of breaking the bank, Val Cannell with Columbus on the Cheap suggests shopping smarter.

“The first thing I would do is pay attention to the sales ads,” Cannell said. “Look and see what’s on sale for that week. If you have a little bit of extra money in your budget, purchase it. Purchase extra when it’s on sale, so you’ll have it when it’s not on sale.”

This also means you’ll be able to shop less.

“The less you’re in the store, the less chance you have for impulse purchases,” Cannell said. “If you’re on a budget, you need to make sure you’re getting what you need when you’re there and not anything extra.”

Or avoid the store altogether. Most grocery chains now offer online ordering and pickup, a service that’s become helpful during the pandemic.

“I have hardly been in a store, into an actual store, since March,” Cannell said.

Online shopping for groceries turns out to be easier on your wallet as well.

“You see your running total the entire time you’re shopping,” Cannell said. “It’s very easy to take off items that you put on there as an impulse, you can see what has a coupon, and it just… it makes it a lot easier to stick to your budget.”

Also try to purchase items that have a longer shelf life, like pasta and soups, ingredients to make casseroles, etc. They’re less expensive, can be made in larger quantities to feed bigger families over a longer period of time, and are fitting meals for colder temperatures.