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29 September 2021

Meal preparation and the NDIS.

Here at Leap in! HQ, we are regularly asked by our members… “how do meal supports work under the NDIS?”

We know it can be confusing, so we’ve prepared this guide on all things food-related to answer your questions.


Does the NDIS cover food and groceries?

Will the NDIS cover the cost of your weekly food shopping: Things like fruit, vegetables, bread, milk and meat?

The short answer is no.

The NDIS only covers additional day-to-day living costs which are related to your disability support needs. Everyone needs to buy food and groceries, whether they have a disability or not. So, for this reason, they are not covered by the NDIS.


Does the NDIS cover meal preparation and delivery?

If you are unable to prepare food or cook for yourself, you may be eligible to receive funding for meal preparation and delivery in your NDIS Plan. This can cover a portion of ready-made meals delivered to you at home or for someone to come to your home and prepare meals for you.

The NDIS will only cover meal preparation and delivery if it is considered “reasonable and necessary” and is related directly to your disability support needs and NDIS goals.

Only the cost that relates to making or cooking and delivering the food will be funded. The NDIS does not cover the cost of ingredients.


Do I need to obtain a quote?

Yes. Ready-made meals are a quotable support. That means you need to submit a quote to the NDIS and have the quote approved before you can use your NDIS funds to make a purchase.

You will need to contact the service provider and ask them to give you a price in writing for ready-made meals delivered to your door, or someone coming to your home to prepare food. You should ask for the quote to show a breakdown of how many meals and their cost you will need per week. The quote should cover your entire plan period. For example if your plan is for 12 months, ask the provider to include the total cost for 12 months.

If you are using a ready-made meal supplier, the quote needs to include:

  • The cost of the ingredients (the amount you pay directly to the meal service company). You can usually expect to pay 20-30% of the total cost.
  • The cost of preparation, packaging and delivery (the amount covered by the NDIS)..


Sending the quote to the NDIS.

Once you have obtained a quote from your provider, it needs to be sent to the NDIS for approval, regardless of how your NDIS plan is managed.

To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Send the quote to the NDIS at enquiries@NDIS.gov.au.
  2. In the accompanying email, request approval for your NDIS funding to be used in that way. Be sure to include the purpose of your request, why you need preparation and delivery support and refer to the attached quote. You may also like to include a letter of support or report from a relevant provider such as your dietician or OT if you have available.
  3. If you have a plan manager like Leap in! include the plan manager’s email address so the NDIS can send the approval direct and your plan manager can pay invoices from your provider.


Which budget category should I use?

Meal preparation and delivery is a stated item listed under your Core budget category. A stated item is one that needs to be listed in your plan before you can purchase it with your NDIS funds.

Look for line item number 01_022_0120_1_1 “Assistance with the cost of the preparation and delivery of meals”.

Some providers split their invoices so you can see which portion is covered by the NDIS and which portion you need to pay yourself.


NEW temporary flexibility for participants in lockdown.

If you are an NDIS participant living in a COVID-19 lockdown area, you’re now able to use your funding to pay for alternative meal preparation and delivery services such as ready-made meals.

If you have NDIS funding to pay for someone to cook and shop, you can now use this funding for preparation and delivery of meals to your home. This may reduce the need for some support workers to come into your home.

The temporary measure came into effect on 10 September and will continue until 1 December 2021.

It’s available to NDIS participants who:

  • Currently use some of their existing core funding to pay for a support worker to help them prepare meals or help with shopping
  • Live in an area with ‘stay at home’ public health orders in place.


Choosing a ready-made meal supplier.

It may be that you would like to use a company that specialises in cooking ready-made meals, snacks and desserts and delivers them to you.

Depending on your preferences, the meals may arrive frozen, ready to heat or warm and ready to eat. You may even be able to obtain a mixture.

Here are some tips for choosing the right service provider:

  1. Make a list of what you want
  2. Research online, talk to people you know or ask us for help
  3. Make sure the company can meet any special needs, such as pureed or gluten free meals
  4. Ask for a menu (or check their website) – you want them to make food you like!
  5. Make sure they can do everything on your list (including delivery times).


We can help you.

The Leap in! Crew works closely with a range of different meal suppliers across Australia and can help to find the right one for you in your area. Here’s how:

  1. Visit out our Provider Network Directory at https://www.leapin.com.au/ndis-provider-network-directory/
  2. In the Service types menu on the left, select “meal delivery” and “meal preparation”.
  3. Select your region from the “locations” menu.
  4. Click on “read more” to find out more about an individual provider and send them a message directly from our website.


Further reading

Latest update: NDIS pricing & COVID-19 measures.

5 tips for choosing a service provider.

Questions we get asked the most on supports and providers.


Originally published 11 July 2019, updated 28 September 2021.