For many of us we don't think that the entire world economy will collapse leaving us with "food zombies" roaming the streets, urban chaos, or even nuclear meltdown, terrorism, or other unthinkable things will actually occur. Most of us don't want to "prep" or prepare for things that most likely won't occur. However, there are very real things that we can prepare for like loss of a job, natural disasters that take power away for long periods of time, and other emergencies that are more common.
This is a great article that I came across this morning. It is a good, common sense approach to thinking about having items in your house which you will need in an emergency.
Basically what you are looking at is a five-fold process:
1. Water - for drinking, cleaning and bathing. (think about disposal of that water too)
2. Food - I prepare for a couple months at the least, but if you think about the longest you went without power and prepare for double that then you will be set for most anything and are able to help neighbors or other family members too.
3. Alternate cooking methods - have a couple different ways to cook your food and have the supplies (tools) that are appropriate for those methods. For example, if you plan to cook using a camping stove then your regular non-stick pans and utensils will work just fine. If you plan to cook using an open fire or grill, then you will need pans and utensils that will work for that. You can't put a plastic handled pan on the grill and not expect it to burn or melt.
4. Emergency First Aid Supplies - always a good thing to have a well stocked first aid kit.
5. Alternate Power Source - whether it be battery operated flashlights, a lantern with fuel, or a solar panel to power or charge your electric items, or dreaming big a generator that takes diesel gas, you need to make sure you have the items you need as well as plenty of batteries or fuel for them.