SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The pandemic has cost many people jobs, peace of mind and time spent with family. Now, it’s costing most of us at the grocery store.

The price of many food items is up at the highest levels in a decade. Some of the factors are higher transportation and packaging costs.

“We don’t realize what the effect this has caused the supply chain,” says Dr. Richard McGrath, who is an economics professor at Georgia Southern University.

Because there’s been more demand for grocery items, McGrath explains manufacturers have had to shift from commercial packaging used for restaurants to smaller grocery store packaging.

“It’s had an effect on the firms and how they actually produce the food to ship to us,” he adds, “and that changes the cost of the food, and that starts driving up the prices.”

Most shoppers will see increases in many things they buy, but the biggest increase in meat. McGrath says for some food items, the spike is in line with inflation, though it may not seem that way.

“With the pandemic economy, our wages aren’t going up, and we feel it more than when wages and prices are going up at a similar rate,” he says.

McGrath says having a strategy and making a list is key because you don’t want to buy food you won’t end up eating.

“The national average is somewhere around 30 percent of fresh food that people buy goes to waste,” says McGrath. “So plan out your shopping based on how many servings of something you need in the coming days instead of just piling things in your cart.”

He says packaged items — especially packaged snacks — can eat into your grocery budget.

McGrath suggests watching for sales of bulk goods, which often happen every two months. He says stock up then and buy enough until the next sale.

He also advises taking dining out into consideration when you buy groceries. If you know you eat out every Friday, for example, he says to keep that in mind when you shop.

“Planning for those evenings out to dinner is important because it allows us to avoid wasting groceries,” McGrath says.

In addition to food items, paper products are set to go up as well.