(ABC4) – Whether you frequent gourmet markets or prefer to purchase food on the more thrifty side, you’ve probably noticed a strain on your grocery budget in recent months. A dollar just isn’t getting you as far as it used to at the grocery store, and you may find yourself hesitant to fork over your credit card to pay for the exorbitant total you’ve somehow racked up.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), costs for food-at-home have increased 6.4 percent since November 2020, which comes close to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics-reported overall 6.8 percent inflation rate over the last year. Fortune reported that this is the swiftest inflation rate since July 1982.

Food items that are seeing the most dramatic price increases are meats, with beef and veal topping the charts with an 8.7 percent price increase, according to the USDA.

So, why are grocery prices going up so rapidly?

According to Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic Policy and Research and visiting economics professor at the University of Utah, it’s somewhat of an amalgamation of several commonly discussed pandemic-related issues.

Sky-high grocery prices – like so many of our current problems – might just stem from early 2020, when restaurants shut down and consumers became skittish about food prepared outside their own homes. Because of this – and other pandemic-related panic-buying – there was a marked increase in food-at-home purchases. And even though restaurants are once again open for business, the demand for at-home food hasn’t slowed.

And when demand increases so dramatically and so quickly, Baker says it takes a while for supply to catch up.

“Could we produce, let’s say, 10% more beef? In the short term, how do ranchers come up with 10% more beef?” Baker asks rhetorically. “I mean, they’re not going to slaughter their whole herds. It’s very difficult to suddenly increase supply like that.”

And when there’s more demand than there is supply? Well, prices go up.

“We saw a big jump in demand,” Baker explains. “It’s very, at least in the short term, hard to match that with increased supply, so that’s going to lead to an increase in price.”

Along with the increased demand, Baker suggests that staffing shortages may also have something to do with the rising price of groceries.

Because of the amount of people missing work due to contracting the Omicron variant of COVID-19, pandemic-induced staffing shortages appear to be coming to a crescendo. Not only are grocery stores themselves short-staffed, but Baker speculates that the trucking companies tasked with getting the food to the stores may be experiencing difficulties as well.

“I think it’s entirely possible to suppose someone who had the truck route wasn’t able to do it because they had Omicron,” Baker explains. “Presumably the trucking company arranges for someone else, but that might mean a 12-hour delay or something.”

And as for the future, it seems that prices will continue to rise, but might show signs of slowing. According to the USDA, at-home food prices are expected to increase between 1.5 and 2.5 percent in 2022. This means, for many Americans, grocery budgets will remain tight.