Mission Competition

Top Money Saving and Comping Tips from a 21 year-old Student keen to make my limited budget stretch the semester!

Follow me on Twitter:@LaurieBeat and Instagram: @lornab22 or email any queries to

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Luck and love!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Quick and Easy Tinned Cottage Pie

Sometimes we just don't have time to make a nice homemade meal, but still want something good and comforting for dinner. One of my all time favourite meals is cottage pie, and have found myself reaching for the ready meal version to save me time. But this will not save me money. Instead, I have found the perfect solution...tinned cottage pie.

Now, wait. Before you are picturing a single tin in which a congealed mess that claims to be cottage pie slurps out, think again. I am talking about using tinned ingredients for a delicious, nutritious and cheap cottage pie. Canned veggies have a bad rep, with people thinking that they aren't as good for you as the fresh alternative! But as the awesome people at can vouch for, they are still packed with vitamins and minerals, and count towards your 5-a-day. Another huge bonus, is that they can be so much cheaper! With a tin of potatoes (already peeled and par-boiled) costing you only 20 pennies (Tesco Value) you'll be saving money, waste and time in prep. A real win-win. So let's get on with the recipe!


  • 1 Tin of Sliced Carrots
  • 1Tin of Peas
  • 2 Tins of Potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter or Margerine
  • 1 Tin of Mince
  • 1/2 Cup of Oats (to bulk up)
  • Cheese to Sprinkle on Top


1) First thing to do is make the mash. With the tinned potatoes, this is super easy. Use 1 and 1/2 tins of the potatoes (saving 1/2 a tin worth of big ones for slicing later), and microwave them in a microwave safe dish for about a minute to soften a bit more. Then, put them in a blender or chopper (or go old school and give your muscles a work-out with a manual masher) along with a knob of butter or marg. Blend up into a nice smooth mash (For a cheesy twist, add soft cheese instead of butter).

2) Put the mince, peas, carrots and oats into an oven dish. The oats will make the mince go further and you can't even taste them (my boyfriend didn't even notice when I didn't tell him!). You could also use lentils for this (canned versions available). Give this all a mix.

3) Now, take those potatoes you left over from earlier and slice them up nice and thin. These will be placed on top of the mince mixture to stop the mash from sinking.

4) Now slather on the delicious mash and top with a sprinkling of cheese. As all the ingredients are already cooked, it just needs heating through in the oven. This takes about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven, and I set mine at 180°C. Now all you have to do is wait for this comforting classic to cook and form that nice crispy cheesy layer on top.

There you go, it's as simple as that! For more canned recipes, check out CannedFood.

Let me know how you get on in the comments below!

Luck and Love, 


Friday, 26 August 2016

A Money Saving Student Holiday - RSPB

When you think of ways to save money, perhaps going on holiday isn't the first thing to spring to mind. But over the last two weeks, I have been on a trip away that has taught me a lot about saving money. I have stayed in a country cottage, been on outdoor walks, seen some amazing wildlife and learned more than I do in the classroom. And all I had to pay was my travel and food while I was there. What was I doing? I was volunteering with the RSPB - the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. I had an incredible two weeks, and would recommend it to anyone interested in wildlife and the great outdoors. Here are the things that I learned, from identifying Heath bumblebees to planning a food shop:

  1. Travel

The main expense of my whole trip was the travel. I knew months in advance where and when I would be going, and so booked my trip 3 months previous to my departure. When I compared the price of what I paid for my return journey to what I would have paid the week of travel I saved £71. That's almost 80%! Here are the ways I saved the money:

  • the most money saving time to book a train ticket is 12 weeks before you leave, although this can be difficult if it is a last minute trip. However, you hear back about the residential volunteering with plenty of time to spare so this is not a problem. 
  • I always use to book my tickets. I love this site as it is clear, easy to use and has some great savings. However, I don't just use one site, I access this through, a cash back site, to make sure that I save even more money on my purchase
  • If you are going on a long journey (mine was almost 7 hours!) entertainment and food can be an issue. To buy food on the train costs a fortune, so I would suggest taking a packed lunch and plenty of snacks. If you're a tea jenny like me, a flask is also a must! Wifi is expensive on trains, so have a technology detox and read a book. Or if you need your comping fix, the latest issue of compers news!

2. Food 

I was forewarned that the place I would be staying was pretty much in the middle of no-where and that there were no shops in walking distance (I tried one day, but it took me over an hour and I had to phone a friend begging to be rescued outside a Tesco Express). I was also told that we wouldn't be able to get to the shops for a couple of days and to bring enough food to last until then. At first, I thought this would be a big hassle, but I used it as an opportunity instead. I am guilty of being the kind of person that does a few small shops rather than one big one per week. This often results in impulse purchases and buying things for dinner that night, when I have plenty of food in the cupboards (see previous post). By not having access to a shop, I would have to plan very carefully what I would be eating each night.

As well as careful planning practice, taking food with me meant that I could use up all the things in my cupboard that I had totally planned on eating, but always ended up replacing with something I knew I liked. Without the opportunity to replace these items, I would be forced out of my comfort zone and clear those cupboards. 

I completely emptied my cupboard and found a whole host of things I had forgotten even existed. Those new superfood health-craze will-make-you-superhuman cereal bars that tasted slightly funny. The tubes of seeds that I thought would be really handy for putting on cereal (but turned out to be great fuel after a day volunteering) and those instant rice packs that are for two people and so had been cruelly abandoned. Without the option of substituting these, I was forced to eat what I had, and discovered that coming out of my comfort zone really isn't a bad thing at all!

We managed to go to one supermarket while I was there, so I had to plan carefully what I needed. I couldn't buy too much as I would than have to lug it back to Scotland, but I needed enough the fuel me. It was a fine balancing act. In the end I went for lots of tinned ingredients, such as potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and soups (which often have the same nutrition of their fresh equivalents), a bag of rice and pasta each, and some meat and cheese. As well as my store-cupbaord favourite: baked beans. In the past, I have created loads of tasty meals from baked beans: check out the recipes here. By getting some store cupboard staples, and plenty that don't have quick use by dates, you can get really inventive and have some great meals without splashing out. In addition to that, the reserve was thick with brambles, so fresh berries were never a problem!

3. Fitness

One evening when I was minding my own business watching TV, I was bombarded with a fast paced advert telling me to stop relaxing on the beach on holiday and instead replace the one bit of relaxation I get a year with some ex-army guy shouting at me to do more push ups. And all this for just over £2,000 for a week. Bargain.

Instead, I went away for two weeks, got fit and actually enjoyed it. The accommodation was free, so were the tools and travel to the site each day. In fact, while I was there I only spent the £40 on food and gained so much more in experience! Each day we were out on the reserve, doing varied tasks each day so you were never bored. Path clearing, bracken bashing and butterfly surveys were just some of the tasks I was lucky enough to try. The first day, my arms ached in that great way when you know you've done some good hard work. Each evening I would come home satisfied and shattered, but at the same time feeling really rewarded. You could see the people who enjoyed walking their dogs round such a well kept green space, you heard the bird chirrup their approval of you maintaining your habitat and I knew that I was doing my part to help conserve the world we have. Beats endless laps round a muddy field any day of the week

4. The People

I have met some amazing people. One of the wardens, Dave, was such a laugh and really made my experience. From about the third day I had been landed with the nickname 'Ninja' (which became the only thing he called me, other than the shortened version - Ninj) due to my skills with a sharp blade among the bracken. He really was a fountain of knowledge and I learnt so much from him. I could abandon expensive wildlife books when he was around, because you knew he would already know the answer before you even registered that a bird had flown past.

As well as that, I was living with two other residential volunteers. This made for a great experience in the house in the evenings, learning about their lives and chatting about our similar passion for protecting the environment. To top it all off, I met a couple of Daleks when I got free entry to Weyfest 2016 to volunteer at the RSPB stand.What better holiday than that?

Find out more about getting involved with residential volunteering with the RSPB here. I sure know I'll be signing up again in future!

Luck and Love, 


Friday, 12 August 2016

A Day in the Life of a Comper...Leanne Baird

Hello! I’m glad we share this amazing hobby, do you have a story about how you got into it?

Hi Lorna! My name is Leanne, I'm 34 and a nurse. I used to enter competitions but was never too serious - I would buy puzzles magazines on a Thursday and when I entered a take a break comp, I won a South Africa safari! It was a trip of a lifetime worth £3000, everything included all for just 96 pence!
Wow! I would ask your best prize so far, but that sounds like it!! What sort of prizes do you prefer: physical prizes or experiences? Why?
I love winning experiences like nights outs. I have won a cinema trip and a murder mystery night. However it's always cool to get a freebie: I won a fantastic hair cut and colour deal!

What do your friends and family think of this hobby? Have you managed to get any of them involved?

My friends and family are very supportive and they put in requests of what they want me to win! My five year old nephew wants Lego and my nine year old niece wants make up, so no pressure! I like it when my prizes can be used to treat friends and family. My best friend entered a Facebook competition and won a Aurora hairband, so comping can be infectious.

Haha, I often get requests for things! It's like magic to them when it suddenly appears through the letter box! What are your top 3 dream prizes?

My three dream prizes are travel related as I love holidays, so a trip to Japan, Iceland and New Orleans.

Iceland is on my list too! What is your favourite method of entering competitions?

I enter Facebook, magazines and any other competitons. I like these methods because can get a wide variety of prizes, especially with Facebook. I sometimes end up with some very random items!

Any tips for fellow compers?

  • Be pro active, if you want to win something in particular - go for it!
  • I'm a big fan of cosmic ordering/ law of attractions so sometimes I'll write or visualise an order.
  • If you are doing postal comps decorate envelopes with stickers, 3 packs for a £1 from the works and jazzy/coloured envelopes.
  • I recommend subscribing to the compers news
  • You have just got to be in it to win it!
There was a famous comper called Helen Haskell and she won every competition she won she used this process called SPEC
  • Select it - select your prize
  • Project It - put it out there
  • Expect It - Expect your prize to come to you
  • Collect it - Imagine collecting it

Any final comments about this brilliant hobby?
It's just good fun and I love when I win random stuff like bottles of tequila and bags of popcorn, I wish everybody all the luck in the world!

Thanks so much Leanne, I loved your tips - SPEC will stick in my mind! If you enjoyed this and want to get involved yourself, send me a message! Email is, and find me on Twitter @LaurieBeat or Instagram @lornab22

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Win on Instagram

After starting to do my Prize Unboxing Videos, I realised that there is one method of entry I have had a fair bit of success with (touch wood) - Instagram.  A few of you delightful readers have asked me how I find these competitions, and how I ultimately win. I wrote this post originally back in August, but times change and so it's time for an update. I've been teaching my sister how to comp on Instagram, and found myself learning new tricks along the way. So here they are, old and new, my top tips for comping on Instagram!

(As this is more about Instagram tips than a tutorial on how to use Instagram, I would recommend checking out Di Coke's blog here if you are new to the app.)

1) Use the Hashtags

Unlike Twitter, you can't search for more than one term on Instagram. This makes it really hard to find competitions, as you cannot look for specific competitions. After trying the usual #win or #competition, I soon realised this would only bring up photos of super sporty people lifting weights and #winning a sporting #competition!

Time to try something else. I always, always, always enter Instagram competitions on Wednesday and Friday. Why? Because the unique hashtags #winitwednesday (or #WinWednesday) and #freebiefriday tend to only bring up competitions that us compers are interested in (not that I don't like seeing the sporty ones...). I make sure that I enter on these days as part of my comping routine.

Other hashtags to try are:

Another great thing about hashtags, is that you can see the photo's that other people have entered. Some competitions only ask you to like and comment, but others will require a photo, usually along the lines of a set theme, accompanied by a hashtag. This is where making your photo's stand out really matters. Rather than the same old posing selfie, try adding in some props like a makeup moustache (as demonstrated) to keep it light-hearted. To make sure yours isn't the same as all the other entries, click the hashtag and have a look at the other photos. This does NOT mean that you can steal an idea or photo as that is cheating. However, making sure your entry doesn't look the same as everyone else's and then coming up with an original idea for your photo is a-okay.

2) Get Your Profile Ready

First things first is to make your profile public if you are wanting to enter creative Instagram competitions. If the promoter cannot see your entry then it cannot be counted. Simple as that. Don't be shy, show your hilarious selfies to the world.

Another thing that promoter may look at is your overall profile. A bit like Twitter, if your profile picture isn't there or doesn't have you in it, it may look like a fake account, especially if all your posts are re-grams of competitions. Try to pick something funny or smiley that expresses you as a person.

Now, about those re-grams. I'm not the biggest fan of competitions that ask you to re-gram a photo (repost the photo to your own Instagram and tag the promoter with a hashtag), and tend to stick to simple like, comment or tag comps or publishing original photos. However, if you are a fan, I would suggest that, after the competition has ended and the winner has been announced, delete the re-gram. This keeps your Instagram tidy and shows promoters that you have a life outside comping (even if that isn't true. GUILTY!)

3) Snap Away

Take lots of pictures, especially when you know there is a competition around. When the Christmas Advent Competitions are in full swing, a festive photo is often required - so save these up! I have an album in my phone just for comping, and also have themed ones to make it easier to find that winning photo! Ones to look out for are Pancake Day, Mothers and Fathers Day and Summer photos.

As I said earlier, standing out from the crowd in these sorts of competitions is so important, as they are generally judged. Think of something that will get your face remembered, whether that be a silly outfit, doing something embarrassing in public or a really impressive talent! Show it off, and don't be afraid to look like a fool! You may never see those people who give you a sly glance again, and anyway, it's all worth it for a laugh and a potential win!

Similarly, when a competition asks you to comment, try and put something funny, rather than just the generic 'Looks fab, thanks'. The promoter may not look through all the comments, but if they do and yours stands out, it may well be picked.

4) Finding creative comps

It's all well and good taking the photos, but how do we find the competition to enter it into?!

Well, with Instagram it's slightly harder, because of the whole 'can only search one word thing' (a pet hate of mine). So it's back to the hashtags we go. You won't find anywhere near as many as the previous hashtag list but try these out for size:

 #SelfieCompetition or #SelfieComp
#PhotoCompetition or #PhotoComp

(Mention any more you know to the comments, and I'll add them in!)

Another thing you can do, is start on Twitter, and end up on Instagram. As you can search more than one word on Twitter, try typing in 'upload Instagram win', as promoters will often advertise their competitions across various social media channels, even if you can only enter on Instagram. For example,  I knew I had a good outfit photo and typed into Twitter 'upload outfit win Instagram' and came across a few competitions. More often that not, the top results will be from months ago, so try going onto 'All Tweets' to bring up recent ones - but be warned, you may need to trek through a fair few irrelevant Tweets!

5) Get a tag buddy or two...or three.

A popular method for entering Instagram comps is to tag someone. This spreads the word of the competition and gets more entrants. If you have comping buddies (if not I recommend Facebook groups like Lucky Learners or my Mission Competition group), ask them if they are willing to be tagged. This helps both of you find new competitions, as you may have different methods for seeking out those hidden gems. My Instagram is @lornab22 if any of you fancy adding and tagging.

One thing I would note when tagging, is be careful not to send the tag as a message to the people tagged, rather than a comment. To avoid this, I tend to put a wee comment first, even just one word or an emoji, to ensure it sends as a comment.

Another great thing about having comping buddies, is that you can send each other competitions you know they will like. If the competition doesn't require a tag, you can send the photo to your friend over the Instagram messanger. To do this, click the little arrow (circled below) and decide who you want to send it to. If you need practice, my Instagram name is @lornab22.

6) Use Forums

One of my main sources of competitions are sites such as Prize Finder and Money Saving Expert. Prize finder has a social media section, and there you can find Instagram competitions (marked with a (IG) next to them). To seek these out without scrolling, search on a laptop by pressing control F and then typing in 'IG'. This will highlight all the Instagram competitions. These sites are great, as someone else is doing all the hard work for you. Sometimes this can mean that they are higher entry, but you have just as good a chance of winning as the other compers.

So get snapping, filter those photos and upload! Comment below with any other Instagram tips and hashtags that you love. If you want an Instagram tagging buddy, comment below and find a friend!

Luck and Love,


Monday, 8 August 2016

A Day in the Life of a Comper… Jen O'Rourke

A Day in the Life of a Comper… Jen O'Rourke
Hello! I’m glad we share this amazing hobby, do you have a story about how you got into it?

I started comping when I was pregnant with my so,. on forums etc as there was always lots of comps. I joined Loquax and my first win was a hoover from a postcard comp. I was thrilled. Been hooked since!

And what has been your best prize so far?
Best prize so far has to be a family trip to Lapland. I took my son, sister and mum. It was magic and something i could never afford. This was from Womans Own magazine and sent away a postcard. I thought it was a wind up when I got a winning letter!
You seem to have had some luck with postcard comps! What is your favourite method of entering competitions?
I don't actually spend a lot of money entering comps. I rarely do postcard entry anymore as stamps are expensive. I'm really lucky on the radio & twitter so that's my fave. Radio you find out instantly as well which I love!
And you get 5 seconds of radio fame! What do your friends and family think of this hobby? Have you managed to get any of them involved?
As and friends are great. As you've said before in your blog...comping is definitely a way of life! My son always participates for photos etc...he wins his own comps as well! I'm known as 'the one that wins everything' in work 😂

Haha, that's a great nickname to have though! What are your top 3 dream prizes?
My dream prizes would be a holiday. Although I have been to NYC and Lapland - I'd love to go to Vegas. Cash would be nice as well. Id love to win Center Court tickets to Wimbledon for my mum one day.
Wimbledon would be incredible! Do you prefer physical prizes or experiences? Why?
I love all prizes. I don't enter things I don't need or want though...i don't see the point. I also love winning for family and friends. I've won holidays, days out, weekends away, tickets for friends and family are always grateful. I've never paid to go to T In The Park so i suppose experiences are best!
T In The Park is top of my list! Any tips for fellow compers?
My tips would be treat it as fun...its a hobby to me. I love creative comps as they are fun. Local comps are great as well...all the wee wins i get are great! I've done really well this year on twitter. Oh and definitely join Lucky Learners / read Di Cokes blog...its fab!
Any final comments about this amazing hobby?
I will be doing this for the rest of my life...its an amazing hobby! X

Thanks Jen for sharing your opinion on comping, if anyone wants to share their story, send me an email at or on Twitter @LaurieBeat

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Prize Unboxing: July 2016

Prize: Pure Digital Radio
From: Pure Radio
Entry: Instagram – comment

Prize: Pilgrims Cheese Voucher
From: Pilgrims Cheese
Entry: Facebook - Comment

Prize: Trimcraft
From: Crafting Kit
Entry: Instagram – comment and tag

Prize: Beloved Dates Hamoer
From: Beloved Dates
Entry: Facebook - Like and Comment

Prize: Trespass Essentials Festival Kit
From: Source Magazine
Entry: Online Form

Prize: Juice Power Bank
From: Juice
Entry: Instagram – Like, Follow, Tag 3 Friends

(NOTE: juiceofficialuk tend to host low entry competitions on Instagram)

Prize: Benefit Goof Proof Brow Make-Up
From: Benefit
Entry: Online Form

Prize: A Journey in Style Book
From: Heathrow Airport
Entry: Effort - Write a Story About an Experience at Heathrow

Prize: Strangerland DVD
From: The Big Issue
Entry: Email Answer and Details

Prize: Woolworths Girls Book
From: Radio Aire 2
Entry: Click-to-Win Dailies

Prize: Backpack and £50 Giftcard
From: New Fashion
Entry: Instagram – follow the link to enter