I got a couple of PMs containing questions on this method & because there was duplication in the questions, and because the replies are rather lengthy (oy!) I decided to answer them here, once, instead of answering them "off forum" twice.
So, this is outlines answers to question about this particular adaptation that our crew utilized.
Q: How did you deal with the ventilation holes in meal bags? Didn't the meal leak through the ventilation holes?
A: There are six holes for ventilation in the bags: 3 going up the right side, 3 going up the left side. Because the bags were big enough and the bowls were small enough, the bags acted as a bowl liner with those ventilation holes just outside the outer edge of the bowl. Because the bag's ventilation holes were outside the outer edge of the bowl, the liner did not leak. BTW, The bowl was big enough to sufficiently hold the meal.
Q: What bowl did you use?
A: Given our reduced environmental impact approach - we re-used Trader Joe's Soup Bowls for their Rice Noodles (The Spring Onion selection was a fav). The bowls are very lightweight polypropylene (PP, dishwasher & microwave save - a consideration to take into account if utilized as a re-hydration bowl ... which was the original intent). From our Philmont practice meals we discovered many different bowls that would work in this way. But these recycled bowls were the lightest, and the cheapest (= essentially free ... but the noodle meal cost $1)
Q: For the re-hydrated meals in a bag, doesn't their packaging need pleats in order to be utilized?
A: No. And you should know that Mountain House and Richmoor do not recommend using the bags to rehydrate on their own, because the packaging does not have as many layers (to reduce cost) as their commercial offerings and consequently those bags have not been tested to hold up to that kind of use. That is why the bowls are VERY IMPORTANT. Both types of bags should thought of as only acting as "bowl liners". It is the bowls themselves that are the cooking vessels that support the weight of the meal & water. It is the bowls themselves that provide containment of the meal in case the bags leak. Remember both types of bags are only acting as "bowl liners" (not as meal cooking vessels)
Q: Which stove did your crew use?
A: Jetboil Sumo (Ti). We took 2, as our crew size was 12.
Boiled water amazingly fast, and the two stoves allowed us additional flexibility to tailor the amount of water we boiled.
Q: How did you pour the water from the large pot?
A: We didn't use a large pot (except for the first demo dinner the Ranger did).
We utilized the Jetboil Sumos, and for general safety we don't lift a pot to pour boiling water directly, but instead use a plastic ladle (1.3 oz - for those ounce counters). This also allowed the Scouts to tailor the thickness of their meals (= the glass half full perspective) ... or gave them additional opportunities to learn from their mistakes (of over-watering = the glass half empty perspective) BTW, Remember to keep hands away from any "pour zone".
Q: Did your crew take a large pot?
A: Yes, for the first night's dinner - all rangers are required to do a demo dinner the first night out ... it is one of the requirements signed off by the lead adult advisor. So, we brought one (1) large pot - our own, just in case our Ranger wasn't willing to do the rehydrating the dinner in the pot demo using the Sumo pots. So, the one large pot we brought (for that demo) was a cheap thin wall aluminum pot - we took it with the idea of getting rid of it early (put it in for recycling at a backcountry commissary) ... but one of our adult advisors decided he liked it (go figure), so he volunteered to carry it (to use as a camp stool during dinner, as a part-time elevated foot rest, as a trail camp shower/wash basin, etc.) ... There was also talk of shooting it up at our Black Powder Rifle activity (lol) ... that didn't happen, it is now in one of our car camp patrol boxes.
But in terms of using it for our crew cooking - other than the first night Ranger demo on the trail - we didn't use it for crew cooking - we used the Sumos instead.
Q: I assume another reason you avoided the Philmont pots was to reduce weight?
A: Yes, we have always focus on being comfortable, and when backpacking that usually means a light carry weight (among other things). Our average carry weight going out of basecamp (with crew gear divided up, 3 days worth of food, and 3 litters of water) was 27 lbs, 12 oz. (The boys were in the 25 lb range, but the other three adult advisors base weights pulled the average carry weight over) Even with the Sumo pots we carried, we still netted almost 23 ounce savings over the traditional Philmont pots ... quite a bit for ounce counters.
HOWEVER our initial approach was to rehydrate in the bowls, and then through the efforts to to reduce both water waste & to avoid additional trash generation ... and to increase efficiency & convenience, this method ended up evolving from that focus.
Q: How did you convince your Ranger?
A: YMMV. First, maybe a better perspective/framing is that our approach wasn't to try & convince our Ranger, we wanted to work with him ... for him to be our partner. Our Ranger was an exceptional reasonable & deep thinking individual (that helped). Second, we didn't try to change his mind on anything. From our initial orientation, he discovered our Scouts were prepared, and had been to Philmont before (that bought a lot of credibility - that helped). Later that day, I discreetly asked him for some time for a brief private discussion. Away from the boys, I explained that I wanted our conversation to be private and not in front of the boys to ensure that his authority was not undercut in anyway. I also emphasized that we knew he was obligated to show the methods by the book and that we would fully respect him doing his job. I also told him that out of desire to be respectful & honest, I needed to explain how we prepared and what our methods evolved to. From that as a beginning, we had great LNT conversation(s) .. he had some astute LNT observations of adaptations not fully embraced by Philmont yet (or for that matter Philmont's Wilderness Pledge to conserve water), but that together we should do on our trek - take it to the next level (although we were not currently required to do it) ... later he proposed that to our crew leader & crew, and they quickly agreed - so we did. (FWIW, in our conversation I fortunately had a prime example that back in 2011 the use of stand-off sticks to protect trees from rope wrap was certainly not the standard way of doing things(we did that and were "discouraged" by our Ranger at the time from doing so - he didn't think it was necessary) ... but in 2013 that technique finally became the standard that is taught).
Again, YMMV ;-)
Edit / Editorial Comment - IMHO, Philmont has improved on reducing the amount of trash each meal generates (with the one glaring exception of the Turkey Stuffing dinner with all its cans, and unneeded, unnecessary packaging boxes for the bags of stuffing). While they still haven't gotten all the low hanging fruit, (or fully embrace their own Wilderness Pledge to conserve water) it is very encouraging to see the steps of improvement they have made.