Shopping Hacks for Judges

Shopping is a necessity in every person’s life, whether it’s for food, new clothes, personal care items, or something else. But for busy Judges, making time for regular shopping trips often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. When your desk is piled high with briefs to review and opinions to edit, heading out to the store is the last thing you want to deal with.

Check out these handy tips for cutting down on shopping time and getting the items you need faster, so you can get back to the tasks you care about most.


Assuming you don’t need the item in a hurry, Amazon is a great place to shop for nearly anything you need, with less time and hassle. Let’s say your shopping list includes shampoo, socks, dog treats, and door hinges. That means fighting traffic to visit the drug store, department store, pet store, and hardware store. OR, instead — just go to Amazon! If you condition yourself to go to Amazon first, you will be amazed at how much time you can save.

If the thought of shipping costs makes you hesitate, here are two additional shopping hacks. First, you can simply add items to your Amazon shopping cart and wait to place your order until you hit the minimum dollar amount needed to score free shipping (normally $49). Second, and even better in my opinion, join Amazon Prime for $99 per year. This entitles you to free 2-day shipping on almost everything, plus free video-streaming of movies and TV shows, and many free Kindle books. I make up my $99 in a couple of months by getting free shipping.


Some people love to shop for clothes. My wife and I are not those people. Judge Kathleen Vratil and Judge Julie Robinson gave us a great suggestion: to save time when shopping for new clothes and accessories, take advantage of Stitch Fix, an online personal style service. We got started by filling out a style profile on the Stitch Fix website (this part should only take about 10 minutes), and we picked a date to receive our new clothes. Then, the Stitch Fix team hand-selected 5 pieces for each of us, and delivered them to our door.

We tried everything on in the comfort of our own home, kept what we liked, and sent back the rest for free. As time goes on, Stitch Fix has gotten better about learning what we like. My wife and I now have updated wardrobes, including stuff we would never have picked for ourselves! Plus, it’s fun.


Sometimes, the hardest thing to find time for is getting food! Hunting and gathering can take a lot of hours and effort.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to use technology to obtain good and healthy meals, either ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook. For ready-to-eat meals delivered to your home, check out websites like Seamless, GrubHub, UberEats, Caviar, and Doordash. These sites allow you to browse local restaurant menus and place your order directly through their online system.

For ready-to-cook meals, check out Hello Fresh, Green Chef, Plated, Purple Carrot, and Blue Apron. These sites deliver recipes and all the ingredients necessary for healthy, great-tasting meals. The cost is about $12 per person per meal, and the meals usually take 30-45 minutes to prepare (I cook while having a glass of wine). Hello Fresh and Green Chef get excellent ratings from Consumer Reports.


Even if you use meal delivery services frequently, you will still sometimes need groceries. Check with your local grocery store to see if they offer pick-up or even home-delivery services. Many large retailers — including Whole Foods, Walmart, and Safeway — allow shoppers to place their orders online and request store pick-up or delivery service. Many regional grocers also offer these services, so do a quick Google search to see if your favorite grocery store is on the list.

Bonus hack: Speaking of home delivery, many dry cleaners will pick up and drop off your laundry.


If online orders and home deliveries just don’t work for you, there are still ways to cut down on shopping time. My best life hack? Shop during store downtimes when the crowds are smallest. I sometimes do this by “trading” a Wednesday morning for a Sunday morning – I work on Sunday instead of shop, and shop on Wednesday instead of work.

Weekends and evenings are often the busiest times for malls and other retailers. While heading to the mall on a weekday morning may feel odd at first, it will definitely take less time than choosing to brave the heavy weekend crowds. And shop-owners tend to be more attentive.

For grocery stores, Sundays and Mondays are often the busiest days, so try to plan your shopping trips on a different day of the week.

Bonus hack: Bring a laundry basket in your car when you go grocery shopping. When you load up your car, place your grocery bags directly into the laundry basket. Once you’re home, you’ll be able to carry everything inside in one trip.

What’s your best time-saving life hack? Call David R. Cohen at 216-831-0001 or send him an email to share your life hack idea with him and your fellow Judges.