The sous vide tool is not deserving of its present condition. Confined for most of its life to high-end restaraunts, the sous vide circulator is sometimes labeled as a tool with too few uses to justify the price. This isn’t really true.

For one, great, easy-to-use sous vide circulators exist — just look at ChefStep’s Joule tool, a circulator with one of the most robust and intuitive cooking apps we’ve ever tested (it’s also 20 percent off today on Amazon and arrives before Christmas). But there’s also the matter of what the everyday, utility-first home cook can get out of it. Here are three simple uses that justify its inclusion in your kitchen alone.

Meal prep has never been easier.

With sous vide, you can turn cheaper cuts of meat into absurdly good meals to eat all week. Essentially, you put your choice cheap meat (pork shoulder, in this case) in a big bag, sink it in a pot full of water and turn the sous vide to the desired temperature. It’ll take a long time, but there’s no flame, gas or risk involved with leaving it running while you’re away at work. When it’s done, you’ve effectively converted all the stuff that usually makes these cuts less than stellar (tough, stringy collagen) into something else entirerly.

It’s the best way to defrost frozen food.

Microwaves are pretty terrible at defrosting food (it has to do with microwave frequencies and some other science). What’s more, defrosting in your sink or on the countertop has an adverse effect on the food quality, too (slow defrosting results in serious moisture loss). Using sous vide to defrost and cook simultaneously solves both of these issues, and makes cooking from frozen a practice not nearly as detrimental (and frustrating) as it often is.

It cooks a mean steak.

The cliché sous vide recipe is the steak, and it is that way for good reason. Making steak at home or in a restaurant is all about understanding and controlling the temperature of the meat, and there is no tool better equipped to handle that task than a circulator. Set the bath to a desired internal temperature and forget about it — you literally cannot overcook it. Once you’re there, toss the steak in a fiery hot cast-iron skillet to finish.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.