Blogging about a new line of children’s shoes, sharing tips on quick games for kids in the kitchen and completing an application for a national competition while her daughters are napping—it’s all in a day’s work for Chattanooga mom Tiffany Merritt.
The national contest invited moms to submit their best cooking and baking techniques using one or more Reynolds products. The company then selected 10 women from hundreds of applications.
Merritt is in good company: The finalists include an author, a YouTube cooking show celebrity and fellow bloggers who pen—or rather, type—up-and-coming sites, like A Southern Fairytale, 365 Days of Slow Cooking and Shanty2Chic.
“I am not a professional home cook,” she said. “I am 32 years old and had never cooked a whole chicken [until recently]. I am the kind of mom who they’re trying to connect with, and I’m delighted to be part of it.”
The competition will follow the group until March 27, with each mom posting blog-style entries every Wednesday on the Reynolds Wrap Facebook page. The topics range from family meals to local, fresh flavors, and each mom has her own profile-like page.
Wednesdays also serve as the days when readers can cast their votes for their favorite no-muss-no-fuss cook.
The five winners, who will become official Reynolds Real Moms and company spokeswomen for a year, will be chosen from a combination of public votes and internal Reynolds tabulations and announced by April 8.
If chosen for the final five, Merritt would continue to post tips as a Reynolds Real Mom and be featured in other advertising. She would also appear at events and blogger conferences.
Mealtime made easy
The Chattanooga mom, an ardent reader, creator and sharer of online media, heard about the competition through her blogging network.
She literally compiled her application of quick tips while her daughters—3-year-old Darah and 9-month-old Layah—napped during one afternoon last November. She learned the first week of January that she had earned a spot in the top 10 and was headed up to Chicago to shoot an individual video and meet her fellow finalists.
Merritt’s video tutorial explained how to use Reynolds aluminum foil to cook customizable vegetable packets, a perfect remedy for picky eaters or limited prep and cleanup time.
“Tiffany is very relatable to moms, and she has such great and unique kitchen tips,” said Ken Lane, vice president of marketing for Reynolds Consumer Products. “Her enthusiasm for Reynolds products and how they help her in the kitchen stood out above the other applicants.”
For her first blog entry, Merritt conquered the challenge of roasting a whole chicken, relying on an oven bag to avoid drying out the bird and to provide for a stress-free cleanup.
Her second week was a full tour of a kid-friendly menu of no-mess comfort foods, including slow cooker mac and cheese using a slow cooker liner and homemade fish sticks and s’mores, both involving the use of parchment paper.
“I did not know how much of a game changer it was to use parchment paper when baking,” Merritt said, adding that it will now forever be a kitchen and baking staple.
The Reynolds competition is all about those kinds of discoveries and sharing creative mom-minded solutions, like meatloaf and mashed potatoes cooked in a muffin tin with cupcake liners, again perfect for the picky palate.
The contest also works as a seamless extension of Merritt’s own blog. She began the online venture in August 2009 as a way to build a community in her new role as a mom to a 7-week-old daughter.
Stuff Parents Need has grown to attract 16,573 monthly page views and 8,107 monthly unique visitors in an audience made up primarily of women between the ages of 25 and 34 with at least one child 5 years old or younger.
Merritt’s tag is “feathering the family nest with products that are the very best,” and she peppers the content with giveaways, parenting tips and general life-made-better advice.
“The blog is about products and services that make life more fun and less hectic for parents of young children,” Merritt said.