There's progress and optimal progress. You may get faster results if you follow a strict, regimented schedule of eating vs training. There may be an ideal time to eat which will maximize muscle growth. You may calculate each macro of food down to the gram, even taking in to account TEF of the food.
But, we're human. We have jobs. We have social lives. It would be impossible to follow such a strict routine forever.
Ultimately, training is exploiting our adaptive capabilities for survival. Your body doesn't build muscle because you go to the gym. Your body builds muscle because, for some reason, you live in a world that involves a lot of heavy lifting. It builds muscle to adapt to this world to improve your chances of survival.
Humans didn't have the knowledge or ability to follow such schedules or diets until very recently. We ate what we had when we wanted. It would be an extremely inefficient survival mechanism if we completely lost progress because we didn't eat a whey shake after a workout.
There are, of course, limitations. Being 300 lbs. of pure muscle has its drawbacks, so it's going to be more resistant the heavier you go. So as you advance, you'll have to become more and more strict. For example, if you don't eat enough calories, muscle won't be built because muscle takes a lot of energy to exist, so you need energy to build it. If you don't eat enough protein, your body won't have the building blocks to create muscle. Once the basic things are mastered (which can take years), THEN meal timing can be helpful to really optimize progress.