1. Published study after published study clearly shows that exercise is secondary to diet for weight loss and health. So start with the one that will make the biggest change, diet.
2. Attempting major lifestyle/behavioral changes is difficult and often unsuccessful for many, so no reason to try doing two (diet and exercise) at the same time.
3. Eating nutritionally dense but calorically light foods is key, to feeling full (hunger pangs suck) and reducing caloric intake. So in other words you need to really jack up the amount of vegetables (and fruit) you're eating.
4. For a busy lifestyle (Im an older nontraditional nursing student and take care of my 6 year old daughter) I find frozen vegetables a lifesaver!
I have found frozen vegetable "meals" like Birdseye's Protein Blend line to be really tasty, filling and packed with nutrition:
Birds Eye Steamfresh Protein Blends Asian Style | Birdseye
Birds Eye Steamfresh Protein Blends Southwest Style | Birdseye
I also really love this product line from Publix:
Path of Life Quinoa, Mediterranean : Publix.com
5. Cut out as many empty starchy carbs as possible (potatoes, rice, pasta)
6. With chicken always go boneless and skinless to cut down on lipid calories in the meat you are serving.
7. Last but not least...protein shakes. You can buy whey protein powdered mix at Costco for example, mix in some 2% milk, some frozen fruit, and a couple handfuls of ice for a HUGE smoothie that will absolutely fill you up for breakfast or lunch but come in under 400 calories easily. And they are super quick to make in a blender.
After getting diet under control and finding that you ENJOY the feeling that eating healthier gives you, then start working in exercise. But BECAREFUL working out will increase your appetite, dont let it correspondingly increase your intake! Also group classes tend to be easier than trying to work out solo so if you have a YMCA or an Orange Theory fitness near you that does group classes, give that a try.